With my German exam looming in the air and some unexpected news, I shouldn’t have time to pin yet another useless weekend thoughts on something so trivial triggered by a clickbait post seen on Facebook. It says study confirms that nobody gives a shit about your vacation pictures with a handsome smiling photo of Barack Obama—as if this handsome intelligent man would care of what you say about his vacation photos.
Here is a screenshot because there is no way I’m gonna give them an expensive link juice; some SEO stuff, I can’t be bothered to explain.
The bitterness of the title is the opposite of schadenfreude, which Google says, is Glückschmerz, which Ambros said, he hasn’t heard at all. The closest English equivalents can be bitterness, grudge, and resentment toward’s someone’s happiness. The article reeks of it. What’s wrong with seeing people’s vacation photos? If people don’t care then how come travel influencers economy is booming every year?
If you’re not happy to see someone’s travel photos, the problem is clearly you and your low self-esteem. I can problematize it further. First, clearly, you can’t afford to travel that’s why you’re bitter. Second, clearly, you may have the money to travel, but not the time. Third, perhaps you’re a busy parent whose time, money, and energy are all spent on raising a family. No doubt, that’s no easy feat. And don’t forget, that’s the path of life you choose for yourself. Fourth, travel is simply not your thing (but really, we’re not only talking about travel photos, are we?
For many of us, we choose the other way. We prioritized traveling over starting a family early in life. We prioritized protected sex *cough* over unplanned parenthood. So don’t blame us if our feed, which you can easily unfollow, is adorned with delicious food and stunning destinations. Mind you, we like and heart the photos of your baby, and we didn’t tell you to stop posting them.
Oh yes, I love gloating, which means, schadenfroh, in German.
Now, I feel like posting all my travel photos I’ve done the past months (phone says I have about 1000 travel photos the last five months) just to make others feel miserable scrolling my socmed feed.
The bitterness of the title somehow reminded me of the German word: Schadenfreude, the pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune or misery. It combines the words Schaden (damage) and Freude (happiness). I heard this word so many times in literature, but I couldn’t really fully grasp it until I read Olive Kitteridge. When Olive realized on some level that she only went to see Louise (who was battling some mental health issues and some miserable family affairs: her son murdered someone; she and her husband were literally two strangers living in the same house), who she never really liked, in order to make herself feel better about her own life. Olive desired for schadenfreude, but she was called out by Louise who literally sang schadenfreude when Olive was about to leave; she was no fool to fall for some petty pity tricks like that. Olive recognized it was wrong for her to desire it.
And there are so many pretend friends, the Olives in our lives, who desire schadenfreude. They secretly wait for your downfall, and they take pleasure from it.
I have to say, to some extent, I’m Olive. Hi, it’s me, I’m Olive. When it comes to seasons though. When I traveled to Prague, I was happy that Munich is not as cold. The same thing can be applied when Ambros and I traveled to Copenhagen. I even joked to Ambros’ friends that I have the seasonal schadenfreude. Someone else has it worse than me.
But, for many Filipinos, schadenfreude has a certain twist, and personally, I do believe it is the bane of our existence, “someone has it worse than you. Your life is not as bad as others have it. You should feel lucky about your life,” which becomes a guiding principle for many uninspired, unmotivated humans that come aplenty.
I encountered this word last year. Some spiritual guru on Instagram posted about it. I thought it was a misspelling, and he meant compassion.
Compersion is a beautiful emotion that involves sincerely sharing in the joy of others. It’s the pure delight and happiness that we experience when someone else is happy, even if their joy has no direct impact on us. In essence, compersion is the antithesis of jealousy and possessiveness.
In Sanskrit, this feeling is known as “Mudita,” and it translates to “the pleasure that comes from delighting in other people’s well-being.” Similarly, in Norwegian, “Unne” means “to be happy on someone else’s behalf.”
You know where this is leading to.
Instead of Schadenfreude and Glückschmerz, we should strive for compersion. Oh, she went to Maldives. Damn, gurl, you look gorg in those bikini.
Perhaps the world would be a less lonely place if we strive for genuine happiness for others’ happiness and success, in whatever shape or form they want them to be.
I know it’s hard. I myself still judge financially struggling couples who have lavish weddings, I still judge people who “magpakanaa bisag wa.”
But if that makes them happy, I should let them be as long as I’m not impacted by their life choices. There should be a German word for this somewhere.