Gather round everybody, cause I’m about to teach you all a new word (unless you’re German, in which case guten tag). The word we’re going to be learning about today is Schadenfreude (pronounced shaa·duhn·froy·duh) and, in German it means “pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.” Now, it’s important to note that this is different from Sadism, because while Sadism is pleasure derived from inflicting pain, Schadenfreude just comes from watching the pain of others.

I can hear the THUNK

So that sounds pretty bad, right? Laughing at the misfortune of others sounds like a thing only terrible people do, no matter how you spin it. That is, until you realize that it’s a feeling everybody has experienced.

Seriously, what was the plan here?

Think about it. You see somebody cut you off and driving recklessly, then you watch them get pulled over a few miles down the road. You see some guy at the bar being a creeper and see them get absolutely wrecked for being a creeper. Watching someone challenging the cops to a fight and seeing him get obliterated. All of these things feel great to see happen, cause it give you the feeling that justice is being done in the world.

Talk about safety glass

Watching people play stupid games and winning stupid prizes is a feeling everybody relates to. America’s Funniest Home Videos was built off this feeling and that show has been running for 30 years! Type “Fail” into YouTube and you’ll see hours of video after video evoking the feeling of Schadenfreude. The play “Avenue Q” actually has a nice and helpful song to help you understand that feeling (Very VERY NSFW by the way)

Fantastic play, if you like muppets, casual racism, and musicals

So feeling pleasure at watching somebody fail doesn’t necessarily make you a bad person. Sure, there might be a slight moral gray line here where the question should be asked “Hey, is that person okay?” but the answer is usually “yes” or “you can’t prove they aren’t”. So don’t feel bad about laughing, cause you’re not a (mostly) bad person.

You’re just experiencing Schadenfreude.

Don’t worry. He’s fine.

Posted by Austin Hamblen, Owner and Main writer of

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