Why are spills and thrills videos, bad Craigslist ads and brutal George Morris critiques just so, so satisfying?
schadenfreude: a feeling of enjoyment that comes from seeing or hearing about the troubles of other people (Merriam-Webster)
Oh, the Internet. It allows us to revel in the joy of seeing top riders flub and not-so-experienced riders get what’s coming to them at any time of day or night. Or is it just me? I’d like to think it’s not, but I do certainly consider myself a connoisseur of Oh Crap moments.
There are the slow-motion types that you just can’t force yourself to look away from. They can come in the form of a video that you just know is going to go wrong, or a Craigslist ad that just gets worse and worse as you read on.
The WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING
Related to The Trainwreck, these fails have an added bizarre element that goes above and beyond a freak accident. Standing upright on horses’ backs, throwing a leg over an unbroken horse — anything that qualifies as “yeah, you should have known better.”
There are the “wait, WHAT?” types–the disasters that happen out of the blue, in the blink of an eye. Most often seen with badly judged distances in the jumping arena and with horses who decide to take a chomp out of unsuspecting victims. Replay is the best way to enjoy these.
The Evil Pony
There are the acts of equine rebellion that make you want to cackle in glee…then slow clap if the unlucky rider manages to stay on and correct the situation.
Why do we love watching others fail? Schadenfreude, that’s why. The interesting part is that schadenfreude isn’t just an abstract concept — it’s scientifically supported. Studies show that feeling a secret joy at others’ failures is self-affirming (feeling like “I am SO much better than them,” or “I would never do THAT”). Individuals with low self-esteem are more likely to experience schadenfreude. It only makes sense that knowing that someone else is doing worse than you means that at least you’re not at the bottom.
And actual science says that schadenfreude is associated with what is commonly known as the “bonding hormone,” ocytocin, which is also released at childbirth to cement the bond between mother and child. What’s the deal with that? It may have to do with creating a them vs. me group mentality — which is consistent with the self-affirming quality of schadenfreude.
So there you go. Now you can stop feeling guilty and keep trawling Craigslist for some unintentionally entertaining ads.