Schadenfreude is “pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others.” And it sure seems like there’s way, WAY too much of it going around.
- There’s a 33-minute-long “Epic Fails” YouTube video with more than 31 million views.
- People think it’s awesome when celebrities gain a bunch of weight and/or have a mental health crisis.
- When it comes to news outlets, if it bleeds it leads.
- There were seven Saw movies, for crying out loud.
Then there’s the “karma’s a bitch” version of schadenfreude:
- We high-five our co-workers when the Office Jerk gets passed over for a promotion he was just certain would be his.
- We hear about the Ashley Madison data breach, and we make Chris Pratt’s Parks & Rec face.
- We delight in the Duggars’ whole awful mess.
I realize a certain degree of schadenfreude is normal; we might even feel vindicated when someone has a what-goes-around-comes-around moment. But maybe we could engage our filters and not publicly participate in snarky, mean-spirited celebrations of other people’s Yuck—no matter how awful they seem to us.
Please hear me: I’m not talking about shrugging our shoulders and wink-winking at bad behavior. I’m just saying we shouldn’t laugh and cheer about it. I don’t think Jesus does a little I-told-you-so happy dance when someone tanks. I think He despairs over the mess we’ve made of things, dispenses grace, and then helps us figure out where we went wrong.
Schadenfreude isn’t particularly Christ-like. No wonder our culture sees us as judgmental, hypocritical jerks. No wonder people don’t want to have anything to do with us and our churches.
So, let’s try this. Grace first. Grace first. Grace first.