Sunday, 7 April 2013

Schadenfreude

I FINALLY get it. Yes I do. Hitting the M1 highway north on a warm sunny Autumn morning, the realisation that should have been so obvious, whacked me in the head. And if you're wondering what I'm yapping about, I refer to my previous post about why people can't just be honest with others (and themselves about their failings) and then go about living their lives like ordinary folk. 

I can't pinpoint exactly which thought brought about the non-epiphany, but I did recall a case where a woman was making certain decisions about the kind of life she wanted to live and it deviated drastically from the conventions and traditions of the family she came from. The result being that she faced rather harsh criticism from the people she loved the most - who claimed to love her too.

There's a saying that goes something like this: Do not tell people your problems, because 20% of them don't care and the other 80% are glad you have them

And as I was thinking about this saying, the non-epiphany struck. And here is where I don't want to generalise or stereotype - but really, I can only write about what I know. In any case, I can actually remember members of her extended family almost reveling at the trials and the tribulations that the family were experiencing at that time. And this is something quite common among the Indian/Asian communities in SA. Although I'm sure if you ask anyone else (i.e. the Portuguese, the Greeks, the Italians, the various Black tribes etc. in South Africa) everyone will have experienced the same thing, to varying degrees. This is what her family had to say:

"Serves them right... because they always think they're so wonderful. Mr. High and Mighty; always judging everyone else... now he'll see. His own daughter is doing the same thing."

That was the common opinionated response from various members of her extended family and their family friends. Of course it was all said behind their backs, but they knew what was being said anyway.

And this is what I've neglected to take into account when telling the initial story. See, I was only looking at it from my point of view and because I'm not someone who would have reacted negatively, for a moment I took for granted that everyone else wouldn't have reacted negatively either. I forgot how cruel some people can be - especially the people closest to you. Why is it that our worst critics; those people who would insult who we are as individuals, those who are unaccepting of the decisions we make or what we choose for ourselves; also happen to be the people closest to us?

Of course, this is not applicable to everyone... but I know more than a fair amount of people who are not entitled to their own beliefs or their own viewpoints... they're not allowed to have their own minds and opinions. They're obliged to conform to what their families or greater communities stand for - whether they agree with it or not.

What's worse is that sometimes friends can also judge you, even if they don't intend to. Personally, I've always found it easier to confide in and talk to relative strangers. Because they have no active interest in the situation, no agenda and stand to gain nothing from the outcome, they're always objective and tend to be more accepting and empathetic.

I still feel offended that she would think that I was one of the people who'd tell her "I told you so". Because truth is, even though I didn't think she was making the right decision, I still respected it as her decision. And I hoped and prayed that she'd find some kind of happiness. I was certainly not among the ones reveling in her pain and misery. It's an act that I find despicable, no matter what the situation. Every person's failure or misfortune is an opportunity for all of us to learn the lesson. And judging others only ever sets one up for the same or similar fate. Karma is only a bitch if you are. 

*Schadenfreude is essentially, pleasure derived from the misfortune of others.

23 comments:

  1. Hah. I know that sentiment of rejoicing on another's misfortune. I have told my mom off a few times for suggesting that the Apple doesn't fall far from the tree in some situations. Not that she literally rejoices but its just the very notion of presuming that's what it is according to her moral compass that annoys me. Sometimes we're very quick to pass judgments due to traditions or what we think is right. People always have valid n invalid reasons for the things that they do/ hide etc. Suppose that's just a coping mechanism, the want to not get judged. Ppl are generally judgemental.
    But I get what you're saying .. I've been in that kind of situations too.

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    1. The problem with pointing the finger Jaya, is that there are always 3 pointing back at you. I always try not to judge people, even if I don't agree with what they're doing, or their opinions because I'm always wary of landing in the very same position - or doing something worse.

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  2. Not allowed to have their own minds and thoughts? I can't tolerate the intolerant, Az, really. Those narrow-minded bastards just p.i.s.s. me off. Don't let anybody ever tell you how to live your life.

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    1. Who me? Don't worry Grumpy... I'm not one to be "told". It's one of my pet peeves actually.

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  3. I'm glad I don't have a family that reacts like that (that I know of). Each of the judgmentally unsupportive "friends" I once had have been let go.

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    1. I know so many people who rejoice at the pain or downfall of others... so count yourself very lucky Roving Retorter. Also, I find that when you don't live with your family, or when you hardly see them, you tend to despise each other less.

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  4. I enjoy how analytical and critical your thought processes are. The thing is, you come to realise,as you get older, who really cares and genuinely want to hear you out when something is wrong, and those who will Schadenfreude in it. I suppose you friend should have known the difference, especially where you are concerned.

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    1. I think the most shocking Prixie, is to find out that a person you thought cared for you, doesn't, and wouldn't mind seeing you at the bottom of the barrel. I don't blame her for her behaviour, but at least now I know where I stand.

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  5. Gosh, Azra. I couldn't have put it better myself. I tend to find the worse critics are MOST DEFINITELY those closest. Those who you would expect to support you and help nurture your dreams, no matter how fairytale your ideas, end up squashing them and making you feel like some deluded loser in the process. Ouch! Are you feeling my pain? It's also a sad fact that probably 80% of people do relish in your misery so why bother giving them the satisfaction of knowing it. Fuckwits. You only have to see the TV ratings for the likes of misery soaps,car crash reality shows and Jerry Springer to know this kind of drama feeds the people. Like you Az, I find a solace and belonging to the virtual friendship. It seems the people that gather in this ethereal place are within the niche that steps away from all that bollocks and are my kinda people. Sorry to swear, but I'm allowed to this month and seem to have developed tourettes. :)

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    1. I feel your pain Juliette. I have an uncle (incidentally, whom I can't stand) and when I was 15, he told his daughter (my cousin) who's 2 years younger than I am that she must "never be like me". So what exactly was I like, that's what I wanted to know. My only crime was wanting to post myself to Boston for a boyband. And you know what? She didn't become like me - instead she dropped out of University and didn't live up to her potential (not that I'm living up to mine, but that's an entirely different story). Thing is, I never forgave him for what he said. And up until today, I resent his bragging ass.

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    2. That's horrible. I don't like him now either. Lets drive last him in our Ferrari 458 Spider! HA!

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    3. Haha! This is why I love you Jules. You have all the great ideas! Let's GO!

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  6. Agree. Such a common and annoying trait of our culture. Ugh. preaching not to judge, but not realising when they're doing the same thing.

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    1. Nuraan, I find irony in some cases - people talking about "not judging" and the very act or the way that they go about doing it is judgemental and a judgment in itself. What a contradiction.

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  7. Everyone judges and almost everyone judges incorrectly (everyone except me -- and you, Azra).

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    1. Haha LL - I try, honestly I do.

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  8. you can't choose your family, huh?

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    1. One of those unfortunate truths about life huh Late Phoenix?

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  9. people will judge, and usually its never the nice stuff is it?

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    1. Aasia, I don't get people who judge, yet are 100 times worse in their own lives. To each his own I guess.

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  10. Cannot STAND people who rejoice in others' misfortunes. WTF?! Grrrrrr...I mean, clearly they're insecure and hateful people, but...my God. It's just baffling...and yet, not at all. Sometimes people suck. Big time.

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  11. oh dear dont worry. Im.more older thsn you and really happens these things but now is.not really matter always somebody said crap things. But really I laugh of these things; you are beauty; amazing and God loves you and have nice friends here.
    I will be honored if you count me like a friend of yours:))

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