There is a nasty bastard inside each and every one of us who gains pleasure from witnessing the misfortune of others, we call this phenomenon Schadenfreude (Sha-den-froy-dah). Now each of us will have watched shows like You’ve Been Framed and spent half an hour giggling guiltily at grannies falling off benches and toddlers getting maimed by the family pet. There is no joy like watching other people absolutely fuck it. A great example occurred this weekend, me and my friends went paint-balling and it must have been maybe the 6th game of the day. I was pumped up, paintball gun in hand, loaded up with precious ammo, the adrenaline was coursing through my veins, I was so ready. The Marshall called “Game On” and it all happened in slow motion much like the battle movies of the eighties. I sprung forward aiming for the shelter of a nearby palette and caught my foot on a root or a branch or some other unhelpful dickhead like that. I was flat on my face, paint-balls spilling everywhere like blood from the wound in my ego. I took a friend down with me, we both scrambled towards the palette to take cover and a third friend, who had watched it all unfold all but pissed herself at our misfortune. In this example, I too found the entire mishap completely fucking hilarious, I haven’t fallen like that since the playground, it was a glorious mess, and had us laughing for the rest of the day.
Now the reason I bring this up is because I still find myself thinking of a particular past conquest every now and then and it bothers me. I am aware that it could be a case of a bruised ego, as if it hasn’t suffered enough, this asshole wormed his way into my brain without permission, and usually he is a fairly good tenant, keeping to himself, but every now and then he will throw a kegger up there, and the odd empty can will roll into the conscious side. Upon hearing that he who has so dis-pleasingly plagued my thoughts is allegedly pretty unhappy with his current lot in life has filled with with a sense of serenity unlike any other. I’ll openly admit that hearing this news has given me the congenial gift of smugness. This prick has made and broken promises, he has mind fucked me, he has been unfair and essentially represents the side of the male gender which we are all programmed to avoid at all costs, and now, finally I have received glorious confirmation of karma biting him on his pretty perfect ass. How honest of me to accept this nasty little part of me with open arms, because we can’t possibly be nice all of the time. It is healthy to, every now and then, leave yourself completely open to being a total bitch, being nice all the time and swallowing our venom creates within us a miniature Dark Lord Cthulhu, whose tentacles spread into our arms and legs and turn us into a walking nightmare when we least expect it. Exorcising our bitchiness is our right, nay, our duty as human beings.
Schadenfreude is a guilty pleasure, a bit like watching Man VS Food or quietly farting at the station as the train rolls in. You know you shouldn’t be doing it, you know you shouldn’t be enjoying it, and yet you let it happen time and time again just to induce that smug little smile, that grin of perverse enjoyment which only mischief can induce. And you just know that others do it too, groups of school girls burst into musical giggles as a teenage boy face-plants whilst showing off on his skateboard, friends deliberately commenting on unfortunate Facebook photos so as to bring them to light in an annual event of hilarity and piss taking. It’s good hearted fun, a bit of comic relief, there is nothing like the savage joy of watching somebody else fuck up and watching beauteous karma show its occasionally demonic face at the party. So yes, when I hear that that girl at school who was mean to me now has three kids with another on the way and zero qualifications, I smirk to myself, when I see that smug bitch take the last seat on the tube only to be sat next to the world’s smelliest man, I grin and when I see a cat, nature’s most graceful creature, stack it and fall off a counter top, I outright laugh because I know, were our roles reversed, it would do the same to me!