Osama bin Laden, Bullies, and Schadenfreude

Taking pleasure in another's misfortunes has a direct line to the root cause of bullying.

Telegraph UK

So have you heard? Osama Bin Laden is dead. I know, crazy. And everyone is dancing in the streets, hugging, crying, etc. etc. The rejoicing and such makes sense though, what with the most evil human being in history aside from Hitler gone and all.

It's kind of like after a family or group of friends falls out of touch with each other and after a while, no one really remembers exactly why. But then there's an event. Something big happens. Maybe something happy, maybe something sad, but something big nonetheless, and everyone reconnects, falls back in touch, and is reminded how amazing it is to have a group of people around you who just get it. 

Yeah, it's kind of like that. America is a family again.

All except the never-happy-unless-it's-her-way bitchy sister with a chip on her shoulder the size of a boulder, who refuses to connect with everyone because the pole up her ass is so tightly inserted that there is little hope of it ever being removed (that's a metaphor for Fox News and their friends, btw, had to get that in there). But, I digress.

Here's the thing. While I'm beyond happy that we're feeling emotional and prideful and patriotic, I'm also aware of the comments and debate brewing about the appropriateness -- or lack thereof -- of our excitement. A friend emailed me and said, "Bin Laden is dead and people are celebrating. I get it, but there's something inherently wrong with that, don't you think?"  

It took me a few minutes to decide if I did, in fact, think there was something inherently wrong with that. And it got me thinking. Past Osama bin Laden. Past evil people being taken out. Past politics and national safety. It actually got me thinking about "schadenfreude." Yes, schadenfreude (pronounced shay-din-froid).

Schadenfreude is a German word made up of schaden (adversity, harm) and freude (joy). Its definition is "pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others." And though I certainly understand people feeling schadenfreude over the death of bin Laden, I feel like there are areas in our lives where the level of schadenfreude is not only over the top, it's simply out of control. 

It's as if astounding numbers of people have gotten to the point where the only way they can feel good about themselves, their lives, their choices, etc. is if others are brought down. It's a problem when one's seemingly healthy and high self confidence is actually based on others low self confidence. A big problem. My darlings, this is bullying 101. Where it all begins. So take notes.

It all starts with someone who feels like crap about themselves, aka "the bully." Instead of really allowing themselves to feel like crap and be vulnerable, possibly exposing their imperfections, they realize that there is actually an equation that can help them trick themselves into feeling better. That equation? Make others feel lower than they do. And so it begins. 

A bully is actually a sad kid, teen, or adult (those are the worst) who is simply repressing their sadness and self-doubt through name calling, face smashing, and self-esteem unraveling of others. But don't tell them you know that, because they'll spit in your face. Awesome

The bullying epidemic is extremely upsetting. I'm sad for people who are bullied, because they don't deserve to feel like their authentic selves are not amazing and beyond perfect exactly the way they are. And I'm sad for bullies, because they don't deserve to feel so bad about themselves that they feel like they have to bring others down just to get through the day.

Sometimes I wonder what the world would be like if people actually loved themselves, their real selves. I wonder what would happen if a person's self esteem was based on their own personal success, rather than the fall of others. Quite the concept.  What would life be like... with no schadenfreude?  

Sign me up for the day I get to say, "Sorry Germany. We appreciate your effort to support our vocabulary, but we no longer need your word. We figured out how to like ourselves. It's pretty rad. Making others suffer so we can feel badass is no longer necessary. I know, crazy right!!? So thanks a bunch. Peace."

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