In studies published last year in the journal PLOS One, one of us, Paul Slovic, and colleagues demonstrated that “compassion fade” can occur when an incident involving a single person expands to as few as two people.
—Scott Slovic & Paul Slovic, “The Arithmetic of Compassion,” The New York Times, December 4, 2015
Similarly, technology connects us to more and more of the world’s suffering, of which there’s an essentially infinite amount, until feeling steamrollered by it becomes structurally inevitable — not a sign that life’s getting worse. And the consequences go beyond glumness. They include “compassion fade”, the well-studied effect whereby our urge to help the unfortunate declines as their numbers increase.
—Oliver Burkeman, “Is less news good news?,” The Guardian (London), January 15, 2016