Tuesday, April 17, 2012

If It's Not Schadenfreude, What Is It?

"Schadenfreude" is one of those words, and feelings, that has moved into the public consciousness over the past few years. I think I probably first really noticed it in the musical "Avenue Q" where they have a whole song about it - and even spell it out in time with the music (which, frankly, is how I know how to spell it).

If you don't know about schadenfreude, it's one of those fun words that comes to us from the German language. It means, roughly, "happiness at the misfortune of others." You know, like when someone you don't like working with gets fired and it makes you happy. Or when you laugh at someone who is texting and walks into a post.

But that's not what I want to talk about.

What I'm having issues with, today, is something that's kind of on the flip side of that. It's having to deal with people who don't seem to deserve the good stuff, yet who somehow get the good stuff. It's a little bit of jealousy. It's a little bit of sour grapes. It's a plea for instant karma.

Yes, I know it's also a perfect chance for forgiveness and rising above - but I know myself well enough to know that that ain't happenin'.

Here's one of the reasons behind the need for the new word: Someone I dealt with as a client - who was really really really mean to work with (to the point of being belittling and threatening - especially when she knew she was wrong), has apparently been doing quite well, lately. I keep hearing about this through mutual friends, who don't realize what went on in the past (because I don't talk about things like that with mutual friends). It annoys the freakin' hell out of me.

There's also the guy who has decided every single person at my company is out to "nickel and dime" him, and so he's getting meaner and meaner. (How *dare* we charge him what it says we will charge in the contract which he signed!) And, lately, his book sales have been going up. And although I've never read the book, I know it's supposed to be about people doing "good" things. I guess he wasn't writing from a place of personal experience.

And so I think we need a new word. Kinda like schadenfreude, only different. Something that means "I'm happy for you, but I would be even happier if karma would come around and bite you in the ass. Really really hard. Twice."

If you find a word like that, could you let me know?

Thanks, everso.

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