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  1. #1
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    Lightbulb One word >> let's talk about it

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    ABW Ambassador meadowmufn's Avatar
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    -Don't criticize anyone til you've walked a mile in their shoes. Then when you do criticize them, you'll be a mile away and have their shoes.
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  4. #4
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    I'm not so certain I would call the consequences of ones actions misfortune, as in the examples above. So to take delight in those would be based more on revenge, taking up someone else's case, or righteous indignation (anger).

    So what is misfortune?

    # unnecessary and unforeseen trouble resulting from an unfortunate event
    # an unfortunate state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
    # bad luck; an undesirable event such as an accident

    So why would one take delight in misfortune?



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  5. #5
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    So why would one take delight in misfortune?
    Who cares why!? It's just as valid to ask why you would feel a need to wonder. Might as well ask why people have 5 toes on each foot. It just is. And, I posit that it's supposed to be that way (or, schadenfreude was a sufficient evolutionary adaptation for the circumstances which produce it). Pleasure is a motivator, and if seeing a baddie get his comeuppance brings pleasure, people are more motivated to make that happen, or at least are not motivated to interfere.

    But, for a more scientific perspective, here is Wiki's take on it (Scroll down the page on Schadenfreude [link in OP] to see original):

    A New York Times article in 2002 cited a number of scientific studies of schadenfreude, which it defined as "delighting in others' misfortune." Many such studies are based on social comparison theory, the idea that when people around us have bad luck, we look better to ourselves. Other researchers have found that people with low self-esteem are more likely to feel schadenfreude than are people who have high self-esteem.[19]

    One recent (2006) experiment suggests that men, but not women, enjoy seeing "bad" people suffer. The study was designed to measure empathy, by watching which brain centers are stimulated when subjects inside an MRI observe someone having a painful experience. Researchers expected that the brain's empathy center would show more stimulation when those seen as "good" got an electric shock than they would if the shock was given to someone the subject had reason to consider bad. This was indeed the case, but for male subjects the brain's pleasure centers also lit up when someone else got a shock that the male thought was well-deserved.
    I do disagree mightily with their conclusion that women don't get schadenfreude! They must not have found the right women for their study.


    # an unfortunate state resulting from unfavorable outcomes
    I'd say all the examples given so far in this thread's links qualify under this description. Wurld's attempts at trickery obviously had an unfavorable outcome for them. Unless Wurld would consider being charged with fraud some kind of good!
    There is no knowledge that is not power. ~Hemingway

  6. #6
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    Who cares why!? It's just as valid to ask why you would feel a need to wonder. Might as well ask why people have 5 toes on each foot. It just is. And, I posit that it's supposed to be that way (or, schadenfreude was a sufficient evolutionary adaptation for the circumstances which produce it). Pleasure is a motivator, and if seeing a baddie get his comeuppance brings pleasure, people are more motivated to make that happen, or at least are not motivated to interfere.
    So your hypothesis is that the motivation is unimportant but the [natural] result of schadenfreude is all that counts and is a basis for prosecution? I believe this is a contorted example of schadenfreude. If OJ Simpson, for instance, was involved in an auto accident that broke his neck, rendering him a quadriplegic, you might take delight in his misfortune because of your opinion of him as a result of his history. But a guilty verdict as a consequence of his actions is hardly misfortune.

    If we come upon a horrible auto accident, why do most of us look? Is it to take delight in the plight of a stranger, or does it somehow elevate us above the circumstances of others to make us feel that we're ok/not suffering/not dead?



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  7. #7
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    So your hypothesis is that the motivation is unimportant but the [natural] result of schadenfreude is all that counts and is a basis for prosecution? I believe this is a contorted example of schadenfreude. If OJ Simpson, for instance, was involved in an auto accident that broke his neck, rendering him a quadriplegic, you might take delight in his misfortune because of your opinion of him as a result of his history. But a guilty verdict as a consequence of his actions is hardly misfortune.
    Actually my hypothesis a result of my worldview that people ask "why" WAY too much. It usually comes to no good end (and usually it's outright bad), especially when directed at human emotion. Even when done innocently, good does not come from it except in the rarest of instances--and this is not one of those rare instances. There is nothing good that can come from a person denying that they experience something so basic, or thinking of it as "wrong."

    As for "prosecution" I'm not sure what you're getting at. Properly-operating prosecutors don't open cases just "for the lulz" (nor do they refuse to open them if they can't get a thrill out of it)...and schadenfreude doesn't require a prosecution in order to happen.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki
    Philosopher and sociologist Theodor Adorno defined schadenfreude as “largely unanticipated delight in the suffering of another which is cognized as trivial and/or appropriate.”
    I would agree with that philosopher's definition. Note that "suffering," NOT "misfortune" is the term used.

    He even has "appropriate" as a key factor. I interpret that to mean that something "serving the [sufferer] right" is often part and parcel with the feeling of schadenfreude.

    A guilty verdict (if deserved) serves the defendant right (it's cognized as appropriate). And it results in his/her suffering, assuming the sentence isn't a slap-wrist one. Feeling pleasure over his predicament is therefore schadenfreude.

    But I must note that getting busted and convicted fits Sense 2 of your own definition of "misfortune"--even though arguing about the definition of misfortune is about as worthwhile as arguing over what the meaning of "is" is.

    You are the one contorting things and trying to add strictures to the definition of schadenfreude, perhaps in an effort to convince yourself you don't feel it. You shouldn't be so uncomfortable with your own humanity! "A rose by any other name" is still a rose. Coming up with a whitewash-term for it doesn't change the underlying reaction.

    Quote Originally Posted by Wiki Schadenfreude Page, near the bottom
    Another phrase with a meaning similar to Schadenfreude is "morose delectation" ("delectatio morosa" in Latin), meaning "the habit of dwelling with enjoyment on evil thoughts".
    The medieval church taught morose delectation as a sin
    It's not the middle ages anymore. IMO nothing is wrong with schadenfreude, so long as people don't try to trigger it by intentionally hurting others.

    If we come upon a horrible auto accident, why do most of us look? Is it to take delight in the plight of a stranger, or does it somehow elevate us above the circumstances of others to make us feel that we're ok/not suffering/not dead?
    I don't know about others on that one, but I would describe my reaction to car accidents as "morbid curiosity." Neither schadenfreude nor pity usually results.

    I must say, your car-accident scenarios (both this and the O.J. scenario) are pretty extreme (geez what roads do you drive on that are so accident-filled?!). In my experience, there usually isn't any physical maiming involved in a situation where I'd feel schadenfreude, let alone the major or even fatal damage your scenarios envision.

    And if I get schadenfreude over a stranger, it's usually because he did something stupid like try to wash his engine with a high-pressure hose and expected it to start again soon. Nothing permanent, he was just a moron and ended up having to stand in the car wash for 6-10 hours waiting for the wiring to dry back out (In other words, it's usually the other situation the philosopher mentioned: When it's a trivial discomfort to the other guy.)

    As for people I know (or know about), yes I do believe that, for example, my reaction to Eliot Spitzer's downfall qualifies 100% as Schadenfreude of the highest order. There's nothing like seeing a hypocritical, high-horsing, holier-than-thou, sh*tstain like that come crashing down. And on national television no less! The only sad part is that I'm sure he did plenty of worse stuff (those kind always do loads of rot, although sometimes it takes years to become evident).

    But usually the events aren't nearly so spectacular. My schadenfreude is usually from something like a competing site, ending up at the bottom of the engine...a merchant I didn't like getting totally blasted here...some jerk who raced by me on a road in an icestorm, ending up stuck in a snowbank...stuff like that.
    Last edited by Leader; October 31st, 2008 at 05:02 AM.
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  8. #8
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    It does seem to be hard-wired into us to a certain extent.

    We definitely feel better for the fact that misfortune occured to someone else and not us.

    It's probably part of the early survival mechanisms that became ingrained in our DNA - fight or flight and all that.

  9. #9
    Life is Supposed to be Fun! Rexanne's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by VampireSkunk
    It does seem to be hard-wired into us to a certain extent.
    I'd feel better if it was only hardwired for funny misfortunes. Someone's misfortune does not make me feel good or better about my own fortune. It makes me sad.

    A bull fighter getting gored by a bull would set my schadenfreude DNA spinning in glee or something unfortunate, although still funny because it didn't do damage or cause suffering happening to someone I thought deserved to be "punished" is always sweet, too. Otherwise, schadenfreude is a human "trait" I find hard to understand or accept. Kind of barbaric IMO.

    Bizarre thread Mr Mackin! Interesting replies.
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  10. #10
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    It doesn't make you feel good or better, it makes you feel, well, Schadenfreude. It's a cocktail of feelings. With a good shot of smug satisfaction in there somewhere.

    I know what you mean. Not one of our more endearing instincts.

  11. #11
    ABW Veteran Mr. Sal's Avatar
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    And if I get schadenfreude over a stranger, it's usually because he did something stupid like try to wash his engine with a high-pressure hose and expected it to start again soon. Nothing permanent, he was just a moron and ended up having to stand in the car wash for 6-10 hours waiting for the wiring to dry back out
    Now I don't know if I was just insulted, or if I was wiser than that moron...

    The first time I tried to wash my engine with a garden hose, I did get all the wiring wet and my car didn't start, but since I did it on my driveway, I was able to use a hair drier to dry those cables in less than 10 minutes and then drive away.

    So I was not a moron, maybe just ˝ a moron.

  12. #12
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Rexanne
    I'd feel better if it was only hardwired for funny misfortunes. Someone's misfortune does not make me feel good or better about my own fortune. It makes me sad.
    To me it all depends on what the "misfortune" is...and who the "someone" is.

    Differences in surrounding circumstances, or past history with the person, are key to whether they will get my sympathy, a neutral "meh, shit happens," or my schadenfreude-fueled laughter.

    For instance, someone getting rooked out of his commission is usually something I find bad and unpleasurable.

    On the other hand, some CROOK getting ripped off by his (unbeknownst to him) equally-or-even-more-crooked-than-him "cool with everything, even illegal stuff" network, now THAT is funny. Same with most cases of scammers getting themselves scammed, by even better scammers. Much better than a boring FBI raid, IMO!

    Kind of barbaric IMO.
    Eh...feeling guilty about a natural response is a surefire way to make yourself miserable, and helps nothing.

    Otherwise, schadenfreude is a human "trait" I find hard to understand or accept.
    There are plenty of human traits I don't care for, but that's not one that bothers me to any serious measure. It really doesn't effect me if someone says "lulz" when, for instance, my mower won't start (or even something worse). Sure, it'd be irritating if they let me *see* them laughing/gloating, and it'd be rude of them to let me see it, but it's not a big deal in the overall scheme of things. I know that someday they will be in a similar situation, at which point I will return the gloating.

    I think traits that actually *cause* harm are far more worthy of concern.

  13. #13
    Analytics Dude Kevin's Avatar
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    <heads to the Search feature to determine the context in which Mr. Mackin decided to bring this up yesterday>
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  14. #14
    Resident Genius and Staunch Capitalist Leader's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Mr. Sal
    Now I don't know if I was just insulted, or if I was wiser than that moron...

    The first time I tried to wash my engine with a garden hose, I did get all the wiring wet and my car didn't start, but since I did it on my driveway, I was able to use a hair drier to dry those cables in less than 10 minutes and then drive away.

    So I was not a moron, maybe just ˝ a moron.
    You were wiser than those morons (plural--there are a few every year).

    The ones I'm talking about do it in a commercial, self-serve car wash. So they have no way to fast-dry their wires, and either end up stuck there for hours, or have to get a ride. And, because it's a high-pressure setup, their wires are really soaked, which makes it take much longer than it would with a regular hose.

    Although I do have to wonder what the point is in washing an engine...it's not like anybody's going to see it

    Quote Originally Posted by Kevin
    <heads to the Search feature to determine the context in which Mr. Mackin decided to bring this up yesterday>
    Someone watching my typical results with the search feature would probably feel some schadenfreude

  15. #15
    ABW Ambassador jodyq's Avatar
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    Well as a woman here I can say honestly, that I do get a kick sometimes out of peoples misfortunes, some more than others. I can rarely say that I feel bad for someone who has come across misfortune. I am a straight believer in Karma, so if a adult be it a male or female has a streak of bad luck, it makes me think and if I know the person it can make me giggle internally. Like my own misfortunes are brought on by me and I accept the fact that some people are smiling.
    Wear Short Sleeves!!! Support the right to bare arms!

  16. #16
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    I think one of the best simple examples is someone hitting their funny bone. We laugh, but know it hurts. It was accidental and usually not through their own direct actions.

  17. #17
    ABW Ambassador jodyq's Avatar
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    My husbands best friend has the worst luck you have ever ever seen, and I absolutely love to hear what bad has happened to this man only because if you knew him he is a complete jerk. But I do think you would laugh at his mishaps, 1. He bought a stolen gift card off of some one he paid $500 for $1000.00 when he went to the store the card only had $20.00 then 2 nights later he was on the news. Then he bought a big screen tv off of the street, the next night it shorted a fuse in his house and a electrician had to come in and do rewiring. He bought a car from california, he never got the title, only had a bill of sale, the owner of the car lot filed bancruptcy and after he spent over $4000.00 on his car the bank or the court? came and took his car. His list goes on and on and boy would you laugh but the majority of his misfortunes are 100% Karma related.
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  18. #18
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    I guess the "mom" in me won't let me be happy about anyone's else's misfortune. I like to see Karma in action, but I am sad that someone behaved in a way that Karma gave them a slap. It makes me sigh, not excited.

    I would rather celebrate people's fortune.

    I'm wondering why this thread was even started, it seems a bizarre topic, and not one I will continue to participate in.
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  19. #19
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    You are the one contorting things and trying to add strictures to the definition of schadenfreude, perhaps in an effort to convince yourself you don't feel it. You shouldn't be so uncomfortable with your own humanity! "A rose by any other name" is still a rose. Coming up with a whitewash-term for it doesn't change the underlying reaction.
    Since a contrived statement void of further definition by a single person can only be analyzed through the narrow confines of their chosen words, composition, and phrasing, how else, but to add structure, in order to opinionate meaning.
    Quote Originally Posted by Leader
    I must say, your car-accident scenarios (both this and the O.J. scenario) are pretty extreme (geez what roads do you drive on that are so accident-filled?!). In my experience, there usually isn't any physical maiming involved in a situation where I'd feel schadenfreude, let alone the major or even fatal damage your scenarios envision.
    To site extreme examples in both directions as a mechanism for analysis is to reach a conclusion somewhere in the middle.

    Some say that man is basically good. I say that man is basically evil and must learn [be taught] good, hence schadenfreude. And there ARE always a few exceptions to the rule. Now good must be defined, but that's fodder for another thread...



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  20. #20
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    As I was telling Hster this morning I had been surfing and found this word.
    I didn't know what it meant so I Googled it and came up with that link.
    Found it very odd so I thought I share with ABWers.
    No hidden agenda.

  21. #21
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    I think schadenfreude comes into play on ABW at times when an unsuspecting newbie shows up spamming or cookie stuffing, or has a stupid website, and ends up in a shark attack. Sometimes the schadenfreude comments abound...



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  22. #22
    ABW Ambassador MeeMaw's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by jodyq
    My husbands best friend has the worst luck you have ever ever seen, and I absolutely love to hear what bad has happened to this man only because if you knew him he is a complete jerk. But I do think you would laugh at his mishaps, 1. He bought a stolen gift card off of some one he paid $500 for $1000.00 when he went to the store the card only had $20.00 then 2 nights later he was on the news. Then he bought a big screen tv off of the street, the next night it shorted a fuse in his house and a electrician had to come in and do rewiring. He bought a car from california, he never got the title, only had a bill of sale, the owner of the car lot filed bancruptcy and after he spent over $4000.00 on his car the bank or the court? came and took his car. His list goes on and on and boy would you laugh but the majority of his misfortunes are 100% Karma related.
    That is a pretty good example.

    I see nothing wrong with this thread myself.

  23. #23
    ABW Ambassador VampireSkunk's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by Ed Byerly
    Some say that man is basically good. I say that man is basically evil and must learn [be taught] good, hence schadenfreude. And there ARE always a few exceptions to the rule. Now good must be defined, but that's fodder for another thread...
    I can't let that pass without comment, Ed.

    Can't agree with you there.

    I'm convinced people are inherently good. (Apart from a very few individuals who are genuinely evil.)

    When most people hurt their fellow men it's because they're hurting inside for some reason, and they're trying to direct the pain outwards away from themselves. Or they're trapped in patterns of behaviour they've acquired along the way and don't know how to break out of. These people can be helped. Anything that has been learned can be unlearned.

    As for skunks, now that's another matter. Absolutely beyond redemption.

  24. #24
    ABW Ambassador Boom or Bust's Avatar
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    Perhaps "evil" is a little strong and "not good" or "bad" would have been more appropriate.

    But at the risk of treading in taboo territory, I'll just say that if man is inherently good there would be no need for [or desire for] the Gospel and redemption. I'm not talking about "religion" either. And that's my last and only response about that...



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  25. #25
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    Not a new word to me. I think it's a very useful word as there is no comparable term in English.

    http://forum.abestweb.com/showthread...=schadenfreude

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