As the most casual viewer of The History Channel can attest, the Germans know a thing or two about misery.
They even have a word, schadenfreude, which translates literally as “harm-joy”, and refers to the shameful pleasure we derive from the suffering of others. I guess there’s something about witnessing a fellow human being humiliate themselves before the world that releases endorphins in our primitive, animalistic brains.
Perhaps the best way to demonstrate the concept is to help you experience it for yourself.
Sure, Top 10 lists are like Will Smith offspring; no one technically needs another one. And granted, searching for obscure clips of soul-pulverizing misfortune may not be the most “ethically defensible” use of my free time, but it’s a Monday, so I assume you’ll take your laughs wherever the hell you can find them.
In terms of karma, we’re good. My yogi at Equinox assures me this is totally forgivable. Remember, we’re not amusing ourselves at the expense of some ill-fated individuals… we’re “building our vocabulary” and learning to be more “multicultural”.
The Grinch-ian smile that’s beginning to snake across your lips… That’s schadenfreude, my little wienerschnitzel.