“Miss Teen South Carolina makes her mark with flub.” I heard about this story on the radio, then on the Today Show, then talk shows, news publications, YouTube, etc. But I just couldn’t make myself sit through all of it. I think I’m on overload. I feel like we spend a lot of time putting people on the spot almost hoping that they’ll screw up and we can make fun of them. I think the possibility of carnage is what keeps people watching reality television and sports programming hosted by retired athletes: like Nascar, there’s always the chance that someone will hit the wall at 200 on live TV. Why is this appealing? I find myself feeling embarrassed by it.
In German there is a word for this: schadenfreude, which means “pleasure taken from someone else’s misfortune.” We may not have a common word for this in English, but we sure know what it’s about. I just find it sad.