Word of the Week: Schadenfreude

“The object of war is not to die for your country but to make the other bastard die for his.” – General George S. Patton

This is quite possibly my favorite word, and I can’t even say “in the English language” because there is no English equivalent… which only heightens its appeal. While the feeling it represents is arguably one of the most detestable experienced by humankind, the word itself has the amazing ability to evoke so much. This one word explains why we are secretly happy when a young, hot celeb gains 70 pounds during pregnancy, why many waste countless hours watching train wreck reality TV, or why I am so easily entertained by Triumph, the Insult Comic Dog. As Mel Brooks said, “Tragedy is when I cut my finger. Comedy is when YOU fall into an open manhole and die.”

Though admittedly hateful, it does seem morally justifiable when an individual or society feels that the suffering party deserved what was coming to him. This conjures up images of Bernie Madoff being led away in handcuffs, the career of Tiger Woods going down the drain after news broke of his “alleged” affairs, or Flanders having to sell off all his possessions in the third season of The Simpsons. One of my all-time favorite songs, Bob Dylan’s “Like a Rolling Stone,” illustrates this form of Schadenfreude beautifully.

Abhorrent or justifiable, it appears that the feeling of schadenfreude is simply part of being human. It’s widely studied by social and evolutionary psychologists (like my hunky college professor, David Buss) and is a key component of Social Comparison Theory. Simplified, when people around us are suffering (particularly those we tend to envy), we feel better about ourselves. And when we feel better about ourselves, we are happier, more optimistic, and more productive. Given that it literally pays to be optimisticit’s easy to see how the occasional dose of Schadenfreude may serve to benefit everyone.

In the end, it turns out we’re ALL haters.

(For those (nerds) who want to explore this further, I recommend The Joy of Pain: Schadenfreude and the Dark Side of Human Nature, available aquí.)

Originally posted 7/9/2013 mommyhasapottymouth.tumblr.com, the mouthful that was my former blog.

Jesus Goes off on Facebook for Excluding Birthday from Year in Review

Dear Facebook,

I was about to jump straight into my rant, but then I asked myself WWJD, and I replied that it’s always best practice to give positive feedback first.

So on that note, I have to say that I love, love, LOVE the Facebook Year in Review. It’s so great to be able to reflect on the past year, check out what my homies have been up to (“homies” is still cool, right?), and see which of my pics received the most likes. (You may or may not believe this, but my walking on water pic didn’t even make the cut; however, ALL of my water-into-wine pics did. I guess that’s what you get when you befriend a ton of degenerates.)

And when I’m feeling a little nostalgic, I’ll pull out all my old Years in Review from the waybacks of the internet. I’ll laugh, and I’ll cry. But mostly I’ll high five the Man Upstairs (I mean, to the left of me) for creating a world in which I am able to reflect non-stop on the most photogenic and socially validated experiences of my life. My mom never did keep a baby book (she wasn’t exactly expecting to have to make one, you know?), and these are all I’ve got. So I thank you for that.

But seriously, guys. W.T.F.?!

I know you like to get the Year in Review party started in mid-December, but do you have to leave off my birthday EVERY, SINGLE YEAR??? I just pulled out my Year in Review from 0000(ish), and THERE WAS NOT A SINGLE PICTURE OF MY BIRTH (scroll down and see for yourself). It’s all just selfies of my mom’s baby bump and pics of her and my dad before I was born. (Joseph, just so we’re clear… not God. He’s super camera shy.)

I know I’m going to come off sounding a little conceited, but my birth was kind of a big deal. I mean, my autobiography is pretty much the number one selling book OF ALL TIME. People literally wage wars in my name. People win Super Bowls in my name. People get away with saying the most unbelievably hateful shit… as long as it’s done in my name. (This kind of power is both blessing and a curse.)

And year after year it looks like I’ve never had a single birthday, let alone a birthday party. That I just spent each December 25 curled up in a corner honing my magic skillz. But people LOVED me! I was really popular, I promise! Did I mention I turned water into wine? At a wedding, no less!

Zuckerberg, I can’t help but think that you’re behind this. Hey, I get it. I say potato, you say latke. I say congratulations, you say mazel tov. I say I’m the Messiah, you say no, I’m not. But do you really have to pretend that I was never even born? That’s just hurtful, man.

All I ask is that you do me a solid and hold off on the Year in Review until the entire year is complete. You never quite know when someone’s going to get married… or have front row tickets to a Taylor Swift concert… or eat at a really popular new restaurant… or birth the Messiah. It just might happen those last two weeks of December.

Peace,

JC

maryreviewUSE

Many thanks to FacebookGoogle image search and these other fine websites for letting me borrow your images for the purpose of personal entertainment: here, here, here, and here.

*Originally published on mommyhasapottymouth.tumblr.com, a mouthful that is my former blog.



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For Half of South Sudanese, No Yeti Tumblers

Last week, I sat down with Anna Mubarek, a SAHM/Plexus consultant in the notorious Juba neighborhood of Gudele, to discuss the growing water crisis in South Sudan.

She winces as she takes the last sip of lukewarm water from her plastic cup, the look on her face one of resignation. “We face many, many problems,” she says. “There are no Yeti Tumblers here in Juba. It’s normally the Amazon Prime which bring us Yeti Tumblers. At times, these shipments are delayed to one week, maybe two. At times they deliver the wrong size. At times they don’t come at all.”

In South Sudan, only 45% of residents have access to ice cold drinking water hours after filling their cup. And due to increased costs of production, Yeti suppliers in Juba are carrying fewer and charging more.

Those living in the suburbs of South Sudan’s largest cities, particularly those without a local REI, have been hit hardest. They can no longer afford to buy enough Yeti Tumblers. Those who still can afford them now spend twice as much as they did before the demands of the holiday season.

Mubarek continues, “I have family members traveling here for the holidays. I placed a bulk order for custom monogrammed decals months ago. Now I have nothing to put them on. Nothing.”

In an area that is struggling with a 30% increase in cost of living in 2015, ice cold water is taking a backseat to putting food on the table. As such, many residents of the poorest regions have turned to inferior products, such as the Starbucks Stainless Steel Tumbler or the “40 oz Stainless Steel Tumbler with Lid and Straw,” neither of which qualify for Amazon Prime. A close family friend of Mubarek, who does not wish to be named, confides, “I have had to accept that my ice will melt before I have had a chance to fully enjoy its frosty goodness. But I have learned to survive with what I have.”

Yet Mubarek states that others have turned to an alternative, more expensive solution. “I recently put an ISO for Yeti tumblers on the local neighborhood moms buy/sell Facebook page. At the price these women are asking for one, I could feed my entire family for one year. One mom even offered me a free sample of Beautycounter’s Hydrate Everyday Body Lotion, but unless it’s packaged in double-wall vacuum insulation, I just don’t see the use.”

As war in South Sudan rages on, a concerted effort by international donors is what is needed to help ensure that the Sudanese have access to ice cold drinking water for their families and preschool teachers. If you are one of the many, like Anna, who has been unable to find Yeti tumblers this holiday season, please consider donating to Water for South Sudan, and know that you have made a difference.