Fadenfreude

by Shai Nir

If you want to see a prime example of human suffering, look no further than the story of Cinderella. Cinderella’s stepsisters were always leaving their dishes out for Cinderella to pick up and wash, and leaving non-empty coke cans all over the place instead of properly recycling them, and when they shaved1 they’d leave stubble all around the sink that Cinderella had to clean up before brushing her teeth, and leaving their crumbs and uneaten food all over the place so now the room is crawling with pests which would probably instantly repel any girls princes that Cinderella or Steve might bring home. Not cool!2

Anyway, uh… Right, Cinderella. Cinderella cheerfully picked up after her sisters, sprayed a little Febreeze here and there, and got a friend to turn all the mice into full-grown men.3 Cinderella certainly didn’t whine about it online. And yet today there’s a spreading trend to air your every minor woe to the world, and nowhere is it better exemplified than in F My Life (pronounced “FML” by those who can’t be bothered to say the full three syllables). FML is a recently popular website that lets people post and read short anonymous anecdotes of peoples’ daily miseries. Now don’t get me wrong: Misery is hilarious. After all, how can you look at a starving, filthy African leper child without bursting into peals of laughter?4 But smelly third-world kids don’t have computers, so the website rarely produces any actual quality. It’s always something weak like catching partner cheating with your best friend, or accidentally vomiting on your boss’s dog, or being caught cheating with your boss’s dog. So what? Who doesn’t run over a grandmother or get mistaken for gay at least once a week?5 The idea behind FML is to let people feel better about their own crappy lives by affirming that they’re not alone, but if something as minor as no one remembering your birthday or being ditched by the love of your life at the altar is enough to qualify as “f***ed,” what are people with real problems supposed to think? If you get your shoelaces caught on a moving car and got smashed into a tree that ripped off half your face,6 and then you go online from your hospital bed and read about some spoiled brat with all their extremities complaining that their parents embarrassed them, wouldn’t seeing that featured on a website supposedly devoted to misery make you feel worse about your condition? If you were locked and tortured in your parents’ basement for four years and you finally manage to chew off your limbs so you can wiggle out through the tiny window and roll your way to freedom, do you really care if some fat bitch got called fat?

It’s not the website’s fault; it’s all of ours. We need to demand better quality anguish, and if we don’t get it we need to start making it. So I challenge you: Go out there today and make someone miserable enough to feel some real schadenfreude over! Burn your roommate’s airplane tickets. Frame your in-laws for murder. Give random strangers smallpox. True misery will only come if we work to achieve it. Today, fuck someone’s life.

1 Their legs
2 DAN!
3 I believe the movie version is called Flowers for Algernon.
4 If these kids are so hungry, why don’t they get a real job like those nice Thai sweatshop children?
5 Gays.
6 Moral: Shoelaces are bad.

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