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Thread: Why are we so attracted to misfortune?

  1. #21
    Senior Member Array substitute's Avatar
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    May 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by SolitaryPenguin View Post
    I can't remember the last time someone phoned me or emailed me to tell me some genuinely good news. I think people focus on the negative so much that it dilutes the positive to the point of barely being recognizable. I'm a damn hippie though so I am biased.
    I see that as a good thing though.

    Think about it.

    The day the GOOD stuff is what makes the news, the day the GOOD stuff is what's considered exceptional, is a sad day.

    People don't comment on the obvious. If you saw a tree in the middle of a Swedish tundra forest with a live bright red parrot sitting on the branch, you wouldn't say "Oh look! A pine tree!" You'd comment on the remarkable.

    The fact that people comment on the bad stuff but not the good, is a good thing. It means the good or average is usual; taken as read.
    Ils se d�merdent, les mecs: trop bon, trop con..................................MY BLOG!

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  2. #22
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    Dec 2007


    That is a truly excellent point, and not something I would have thought of.

  3. #23
    Lallygag Moderator Array Geoff's Avatar
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    Apr 2007


    Quote Originally Posted by elfinchilde View Post
    Possibly, because reading about happy people creates envy. While reading about unfortunate people creates sympathy/empathy.
    Hmm.. the problem is, we laugh at misfortune. Slapstick, even an unfortunate, but actually real, death can be funny.

    That shouldn't fit what you said...?

    (yes, I know this is all comes together in a very complex weave)

  4. #24


    I think it's a form of voyeurism specific to our own mortality. Mortality is one of those things everyone knows in the back of their mind but rarely likes to think about. When we see misfortune, injury or death in others, it's a way to peep our own death without actually confronting it.

    I think that's why this sort of thing often isn't seen just as interesting, but also as humorous. Humor is often a way to deal with serious topics in a lighthearted way, and what could be more serious than one's own death?
    Everybody have fun tonight. Everybody Wang Chung tonight.


  5. #25
    Per Ardua Array Metamorphosis's Avatar
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    May 2007


    Seems like a coping mechanism to me. When you are in a stressful situation, or someone around you is in extreme pain/distress...can you operate more efficiently (at fixing the problem) if you are as messed up as they are, or if you are laughing?

    I've been in crisis situations before where I was walking around with a big smile on my face. But I would vastly prefer that over the people who are freaking out.
    "You will always be fond of me. I represent to you all the sins you never had the courage to commit."

    Reason is, and ought only to be the slave of the passions, and can never pretend to any other office
    than to serve and obey them. - David Hume

  6. #26
    a white iris Array elfinchilde's Avatar
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    Jan 2008


    Quote Originally Posted by Geoff View Post
    Hmm.. the problem is, we laugh at misfortune. Slapstick, even an unfortunate, but actually real, death can be funny.

    That shouldn't fit what you said...?

    (yes, I know this is all comes together in a very complex weave)
    What Meta and FM said. it's catharsis. Humor as a coping mechanism. Like when how, one is faced with tragedy on a daily basis, the slightest thing can crack you up laughing. Which then gives strength to carry on in a situation of crisis.

    So yups. that would be sympathy/empathy, and defence mechanism then.

    I should have added in Nightning's point as well, that sometimes, reading about others who are worse off can make one feel better about themselves.

    because we can't leave out the possibility too that some others are sadistic by nature and enjoy watching others suffer. Whether consciously or unconsciously. Because in social hierarchies, if one's not at the top/there, one may always choose to put down others in order to feel better.

    You do see it in society. Hypothetically, the way mothers, for instance, when walking on the streets with a whiny child pestering for a toy, may sometimes point at a beggar and go, "Look at that poor man, he has nothing. You have so much, why are you complaining?" etcetc. They are conceivably all subtle forms of the social game.

    It is perhaps when egocentricity has devolved, that instead of feeling better, one feels worse when confronted by the tragedy of others. Therein the possibility of sympathy, which is then one step away from empathy.
    You gave me hyacinths first a year ago;
    They called me the hyacinth girl.
    Yet when we came back, late, from the Hyacinth garden,
    Your arms full, and your hair wet, I could not
    Speak, and my eyes failed, I was neither
    Living nor dead, and I knew nothing,
    Looking into the heart of light, the silence.

    --T.S Eliot, The Wasteland

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