A few days ago, I saw someone making snarky comments at a famous person on Twitter who’d gone through some career trouble. When someone asked why he was acting like this (following someone you dislike on Twitter and sending them disparaging messages) he responded “Schadenfreude, my friend.”
Adding the “my friend” as if that actually explains it. It’s all so simple. Elementary, my dear Watson. You want an explanation? Schadenfreude, my friend.
Schadenfreude? Pleasure derived from another’s misfortunes? Well now wait a minute, why should that be?
I’ve been thinking about it, and I can’t defend it. The idea that a man would be delighting in another’s suffering. Sure, I get it. I’m certainly guilty of it like I believe most are. But is there anything masculine about this? No, of course not. Men should seek to uplift, not to destroy, and certainly not to just watch and get off to destruction. And it’s definitely not anything we should be bragging about experiencing.
Why would I be happy about someone else suffering? Is this person my enemy? They must be, right? Well, what makes them my enemy? Do they not share my general political ideology? That’s probably the case, but so what? Do they really not share a single belief with me? At what point is someone really my enemy? How many beliefs must we share? What about personality? (If you think you know someone because of what ideology they identify with, you’ve got a lot to learn about how complex humans really are.) What if anything have they done to act against me in a way that would justify me being happy in their misfortune? Have they violated the NAP? Probably not.
Schadenfreude, conscious or otherwise, is an emotional commitment, so the person I’m feeling it towards had better be worth it. So who is actually worth it? I don’t buy that guy’s idea: that I should celebrate celebrities I don’t personally know having hardship. (Even though I definitely have, even if not to the extent of following them on Twitter and heckling them like a clown– I’ve still got work to do)
What’s that called? When you’re watching someone else getting fucked? Oh yeah, cuckoldry. Why aren’t you doing the fucking yourself? What’s that, it’s not worth the effort? You don’t want to fuck this person yourself? If you don’t care enough to genuinely and personally attack someone, and I mean directly, face-to-face, either in physical combat or in debate, then they’re not really your enemy. You’re not committed. Why aren’t you committed? Because in the back of your mind, you know it’s not really that important. You don’t know them. You shouldn’t care about them or anything that happens to them. If you are, you’re surrendering mental and emotional resources that are better spent almost anywhere else.
Not only is it a shitty, weaselly, unmanly way to act, it’s a form of emotional self-harm, and I’d argue that even just experiencing it without announcing it like a schmuck violates the spirit of the NAP. Instead of relying on the suffering of people you don’t know to get high, you could be working out, studying, crafting, composing, or writing stupid blog posts like me oh god i’ve got to go bye.