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Recent science is shedding light on this question, and the main culprit at work seems to be envy. The more we envy someone, the more pleasure we derive when that person meets some horrid end.
Something bad happens to someone else, yet as a result we feel good. This psychological phenomenon is so widespread that it has even been given a name -- schadenfreude -- which roughly translates from German into English as "damage-joy" or "fail-joy.
Just click on any article concerning celebrity failings, political scandal, the death penalty, lawsuits, natural disasters, obesity, war, or any other bit of misery and read the comments section.
Why are we, in short, so incredibly bitter? Thus, we feel schadenfreude because our self-worth does not exist in a bubble; it is relative. As such, the worse off others are, the better off we are or at least think we are.
Man, I sure am better than her! But it does seem a bit unfortunate that we derive so much pleasure from the failings of others.
I sincerely believe that schadenfreude is responsible for a large portion of the misfortune and suffering in the world, and that if we just spent a bit more time building one another up instead of tearing one another down the world would be a better place.
The best way to counter schadenfreude is probably to nullify its source: This can be accomplished by remembering that whether from a scientific or religious perspective, we are pretty darned insignificant.
What are humans against the boot of an omnipotent, omnipresent, and omniscient God? And even if the universe is purely material, what are we against the vast cosmos?
Carl Sagan captured this thought best: Think of the rivers of blood spilled by all those generals and emperors so that in glory and triumph they could become the momentary masters of a fraction of a dot. Think of the endless cruelties visited by the inhabitants of one corner of this pixel on the scarcely distinguishable inhabitants of some other corner.
How frequent their misunderstandings, how eager they are to kill one another, how fervent their hatreds. Our posturings, our imagined self-importance, the delusion that we have some privileged position in the universe, are challenged by this point of pale light.
Our planet is a lonely speck in the great enveloping cosmic dark. In our obscurity - in all this vastness - there is no hint that help will come from elsewhere to save us from ourselves.
Life is far too short -- and the universe far too large and remarkable -- to be cruel over such pettiness.Quora User is correct, people that are insecure often try to dominate others to assuage their own feelings of inadequacy. This is the classic motivation of the bully.
Most people aren't cruel to the weak but most of those that are do so for the reason I stated. Sep 05, · Prosecuting homeless people for sleeping on the streets when there is no shelter available is a form of cruel and unusual punishment that violates the Constitution, a .
Sometimes people are mean and cruel because they are being rewarded by the CIA to inflict as much psychological and emotional harm to someone. And it's fun when the celebs are there to egg you on.
How much sicker can people get? It seems like our world is becoming more sadistic and more cruel with each passing day.
If you doubt this, just keep reading. Sadly, I could have easily included hundreds more examples just like these. Changes are happening to our society at a very deep and very fundamental level. Jul 08, · Now, I'm not saying there aren't bad people in the world, or that all people are somehow equal on the moral landscape.
Of course I'm not.
But it does seem a bit unfortunate that we derive so much pleasure from the failings of others. People with low self esteem, people who are angry and stressed out may project these feelinsg on to other people.
In conclusion then there are many reasons why people may act mean or cruel, but the important thing to remember is that in all these cases the people are lashing out because of something wrong with them.