It’s probably become apparent to anyone withe eyes who reads my blog that I am content to rant about Feminism all day. Of course I don’t mean Feminism in a classic sense, but this Fourth Wave, Post-post-postmodern Feminism that oozes through the Internet like sludge of the illogical. However, today I’m not ranting about how sexist pop music isn’t really that big of a deal or about how much I value my restrictive, old-school foundation garments (and I do!) but rather something a little more personal.
Yes. Perhaps the most valuable loan word we’ve ever been loaned, and definitely one of the most wonderful concepts to ever be articulated by Germans. Schadenfreude refers to a gleeful feeling brought on by another person’s misery, failure, or bad luck. It doesn’t have to be someone you dislike, it could be anyone. Schadenfreude is the warm, bubbly feeling you get when, in your limited perception, you feel karma has made its rounds, when someone gets their comeuppance. It’s the “ha!”, the “I told you so”, and often just a quiet, personal experience of pleasure. The Internet is made for schadenfreude, everyone is so desperate include everyone else in their entire life narrative that we have Facebook et al. to assist in delivering schadenfreude worthy morsels to our dark sides daily.
Now, this may seem like a nasty, rotten emotion that we should repress with due diligence, but I’m pretty sure this can’t be done. Similar to the way some people (usually straight women) say stupid things like, “I don’t talk behind people’s backs” (bullshit, I call bullshit.) or “I don’t hang out with people who gossip,” schadenfreude is a very natural part of human interaction and in a private way can be very comforting. Oh look, another of my friends has been hired for a high-paying job they got through nepotism, but two hours later their cat puked on their bedspread. HA! Thanks for telling me, Facebook, I’m really enjoying wallowing in that cat vomit. Regard, someone I vaguely know is getting married to someone else I vaguely know and they are so very happy but someone backed into their car in a parking lot. GLORIOUS.
Again, this may seem somewhat nefarious, but we live in world with a digital space accompanied it which is utterly designed for bragging. Oh, you ran 6.4 miles? Go you! You got married and it was fucking beautiful? Yippeee! You lost 34.9lbs? Sparklers! You’re going to Bermuda? Sweet! Your kid had an embarrassing tantrum in a public place? Yay. Schadenfreude is the emotional equivalent of liking someone’s break up status, and not in a supportive way. To be fair, we almost never feel it over terrible things, or if we do, we don’t express it. In fact, schadenfreude is almost never expressed – making it even less nefarious.