Schadenfreude

I found myself, this morning, whilst sitting at my desk waiting for my computer to finish the overly long boot-up process, thinking about a conversation I’d just had with one of my co-workers.  While half-joking and light-hearted, we had summarily bashed one of our other co-workers who wasn’t even there.  We’d gotten a little laugh at his expense, he doesn’t know about it, and, therefore, isn’t hurt by it, but it got me thinking.  I’ve participated in similar discussions with this morning’s bashee about my fellow basher, again, in his absence.  Based on this, I’m sure they’ve bashed on me when I wasn’t around.  Of course, we aren’t the only three who do this in our office, nor is our office unique.  This is why shows like ‘Survivor’ and ‘Big Brother’ are popular… we love to see people making fun of one another and stabbing each other in the back. The German’s have a word for this: Schadenfreude.  It translates as ‘pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.’  Why do we (humans) do this?  Why are we wired to like watching others fail?

Personally, as I sit here thinking about it, I don’t need to belittle my co-workers to feel important.  I know what I do is important and that I’m good at my job.  I don’t need to bash another’s personal/love life… my wife of twelve and a half years is still the love of my life and we have two girls who’ve not yet hit their teens –not looking forward to that.  So why do I participate in the bashing?

Schadenfreude!?!  Just because it has a name, doesn’t mean I have to subscribe to it, right?  Now that I’ve actually spent a little time discussing this with myself, we (myself and I) are going to commit to no longer engaging in this behavior… not actively, at least.  I’m sure I’ll still laugh when I see the video clips of people making buffoons of themselves, having slip and falls, etc., but I’m going to stop participating in the group bashing of others.  I don’t need it.  Some people will turn their angst on me when I walk away from such chatter, but I don’t care because “I’m Good Enough, I’m Smart Enough, and Doggone It, People Like Me!*”

BTW, if you think you’re one of the people in my office I was referring to, you may be right, but I won’t admit it so don’t ask  🙂

*quote from Saturday Night Live’s skit ‘Daily Affirmations with Stuart Smalley’

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