What changed in society to make people so heartless?

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People can be warm, generous, and welcoming to others in primitive societies since the population is very low and almost everyone is related by blood or affinity. We can consider these people as “persons with a heart.” The warmness and generosity of people to insignificant others can still be felt in rural communities.

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In a Philippine barrio, for instance, members of the community share food and participate in “bayanihan” or solidarity if someone is in need of labor. But this warmness and generosity to others would be difficult to find in urban communities or cities.

When society becomes more highly urbanized due to massive out-migration from rural to urban, social alienation of people would intensify. People would be uprooted from their kinship network of relatives which serves as a social protection against intruders and deviants. In the city, people become strangers from one another and thus increase their distrust for one another.

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The social psychology of living in the city, therefore, requires dwellers to use one’s intelligence first rather than the heart for security reasons, and in this sense, they become “heartless”! They would not easily welcome strangers into their homes nor easily help people in distress for fear of being victimized by crimes.

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They would analyze first the situation carefully before helping people. This seems to be the general pattern for city dwellers and are therefore seen as “heartless”. The use of the head rather than the heart in the city is not intentional, though. It is one of the negative unintended effects of living in a society with high social alienation and social risk.

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Living in rural societies is different. People are united by common values and beliefs or what Durkheim calls as mechanical solidarity. Rural folks usually know the kinship ties in their community and are familiar of community members. Thus, the trust is high and can easily use their heart rather than their mind in helping people.

GIF Credits: Giphy.com

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