Schadenfreude

One of the not-so-great things about the internet, especially social media, is the increasing number of posts based on schadenfreude. For those not knowing: schadenfreude is a typical German word (and character trait?) and means something toward gloating or malicious glee.

And unfortunately, it is precisely these posts that receive the highest number of clicks and likes.

Arthur Schopenhauer said: “There is no more infallible sign of a terrible heart and deep moral unworthiness than a streak of pure, heartfelt schadenfreude. One should always avoid the one on whom one perceives it.”

Strong words, but there is something to it. Worse than that–they hide schadenfreude under the cloak of humour. When video clips are shown of people having mishaps, they are fails, epic fails, the biggest fails. They even go to the trouble of adding sound to these mostly smartphone clips and editing them together.

Recently, this happened to me on Facebook. A very well-known magician posted a video of a young woman slipping in a garage and taking a violent fall that certainly hurt, especially as she landed on her upper body and face. When I reacted and then said that it disappointed me that one of my idols had to post such things, I got in response that I was humourless, or rather lacking a “sense of humour”. What humour? Schadenfreude humour?

The comments of some guys to the clip were in the realm of sexism. Dirty laughs. The very lowest level.

Of course, I know that schadenfreude is part of human nature, and that every clown and comedian works with schadenfreude. Otherwise, most of the acts wouldn’t work at all. And of course I also like to laugh a lot at artists like George Carl, for example. But there is a difference between someone doing it on purpose, performing, and someone doing it as an accident.

Unfortunately, you can observe this more and more often in many magic Facebook groups. People make fun of what happens to others. Embarrassing and an indictment of the magic scene. There is no longer any question of brotherhood or community.

I will not let myself be converted and paint schadenfreude videos (this includes the prank videos) with humour to justify them.

I’ll stick to Schopenhauer.