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  1. #1
    Blah Orangey's Avatar
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    Default Liberal Schadenfreude

    I saw this article on Slate, and I thought I'd share it with you because I think it points to a couple of things that have been annoying me lately. Here's the article in full.

    Liberal Schadenfreude is Out of Control
    Why gloating after the election is nastier than ever.



    When George Bush won re-election in 2004, I felt like the world was going to end. I called my parents that night, crying about how devastating this was for the country. The next day, my dear friend and I were driving outside campus, nearly hysterical over the results. She ran a stop sign on the side of a school bus sign neither of us saw through our tears and got a $200 traffic ticket. I had just turned 21. My vote for Kerry was the first I’d ever cast, and boy did losing hurt. But there was no one to around to rub my face in my own misery. In order to do that, someone would have had to call or email me or come up to my red-rimmed eyes and laugh in my face. Given that my immediate family is liberal, modern social media was in its infancy, and I went to a strongly left-leaning college, nothing like this happened. My friends and I consoled each other and moved on, and I never had the experience of anyone reveling in my despair.

    Eight years later, how the world has changed. When the TV networks declared that Obama won his second term, I whooped with glee, did a little dance and posted a few social media updates including, “Proud to be an American tonight. 4 MORE YEARS.” I was so incredibly happy.

    As the recaps and analyses rolled in, I was not above enjoying articles about Karl Rove’s Fox News on-air meltdowns and Donald Trump’s over-the-top Twitter feed.
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    But I began to notice, both in media coverage and in social media networks, that Obama supporters were not just thrilled that our guy won—folks were insanely, morbidly happy that all Republicans were miserable. And they weren’t just picking on easy and legitimate punching bags like Karl Rove and Donald Trump. Lindy West of Jezebel wrote a blog post entitled “My Ten Favorite Kinds of Right Wing Temper Tantrums” in which she proudly declared, “I am just 99 percent completely fucking delighted by every single weepy right-wing temper tantrum. I can't stop hate-reading. I can't stop.” A blogger for The Daily Kos wrote, “So please know, my fervid conservative friends, that I am temporarily suspending the empathic sensibility that generally informs most of us on the left. I am not laughing with you, in other words, since you seem capable of neither doubt nor self-deprecation. I am laughing at you. You are welcome to join me.” Someone created a Tumblr called White People Mourning Romney. It isn’t particularly interesting or clever, unless you just like photos of your fellow Americans crying or looking disappointed, but people sent in dozens of submissions. Judging by the number of delighted notes on each post, these photos fill many liberal hearts with glee. Mary Elizabeth Williams from Salon concludes it’s OK to meanly gloat because we New Yorkers need a reason to be happy after having such a tough time with Sandy.

    Twitter and Facebook have become cesspools of schadenfreude. I’d like to think that most people wouldn’t dare say to a friend, colleague, or relative the mean-spirited gloating hatefulness that has become common in the last few days. A sampling:

    If there is one thing in this whole country that liberals and conservatives can agree on, it’s that we live in a deeply polarized, angry, divided nation. Social media seems to encourage blasting our basest feelings to everyone we know, and it’s caused some of us to totally mute our human sense of empathy. If I had logged into 2012-style Facebook and Twitter at the depths of my own political despair in 2004, I can only imagine how painful it would have been to be see strangers and friends alike basking in my pain. Frankly, I think it would have made it even harder for me to let go of my political wounds and move on. It would have just made me that much angrier.

    There’s plenty I disagree with Republicans about, but they are (slightly less than) half the country. Liberals need to pipe down. Ruthlessly delighting in Republican sadness will not help bring anyone together to make the most of Obama’s second term. There’s plenty to celebrate, like this, this and this, without putting anyone down.
    The pathetic personal anecdote notwithstanding (honestly, if I knew her in 2004 I think I would have had to slap her), there are two things here that have been bothering me.

    1. In the bolded portion, that guy refers to "empathy that generally informs the left." This is deeply disturbing to me...the thought that empathy is automatically a facet of the left, on an individual level. I understand that he was being funny, but it points to a very real attitude that I think is dangerous. This whole "being mean on FB and twitter might hurt someone's feelings" thing may be a bit of a silly issue in and of itself, but the way that being an asshole is rationalized in the wake of what is basically the climax of a group orgy is a little frightening.

    2. Acting in this way is reminiscent of a frivolous mob, and I think it is very much to the detriment of a liberal identification. Is this the downside of getting the youth vote?

    What do you think?
    Artes, Scientia, Veritasiness

  2. #2
    meh Salomé's Avatar
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    I am not laughing with you, in other words, since you seem capable of neither doubt nor self-deprecation. I am laughing at you.
    How else should one respond to the hysterical unreasonableness of the Tea Party and their ilk?

    Empathy has limits.
    Quote Originally Posted by Ivy View Post
    Gosh, the world looks so small from up here on my high horse of menstruation.

  3. #3
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    Social media seems to encourage blasting our basest feelings to everyone we know, and it’s caused some of us to totally mute our human sense of empathy.
    We could dismantle social media, or we could exercise individual self-control and stop blasting our irrational, 'first-cut,' visceral bullshit on a medium that spreads and sticks around forever.

    The problem isn't that our culture (e.g. liberal Schadenfreude) is getting worse and worse; it's just that our technology is allowing us to reach our.. ... fullest potential.

  4. #4
    Senior Member tinker683's Avatar
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    I've seen this kind of thinking before on both sides i.e Republicans thinking they're the only True Americans(tm) and Democrats thinking they're the only source of morality and tolerance left against the "fascists".

    It's really, really annoying and its because of assclown-thinking like this that the country continues to remain polarized and divided.
    "The man who is swimming against the stream knows the strength of it."
    ― Woodrow Wilson

  5. #5
    Senior Member BAJ's Avatar
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    Eh, Rush and their ilk are putrid boils on the ass of America. Their side's insensitivity and arrogant ignorance has been obvious for many years.

    Just now when a Republican says rape is a gift of God, which God meant to happen, then everyone knows about it. It pops up in my facebook.

    In a community just north of here there is supposedly an effigy of Obama on someone's porch with a sign saying "pray for assassins". Friends with Liberal bumper stickers are yelled at for supporting "the anti-christ Obama", and other stuff.

    Conservatives are crying about wounds they inflicted on themselves.

  6. #6
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    I can't get too douchey about politics on social media because I love too many people that are conservative. There is more to people than their politics, so as much as I sometimes want to, gloating is just not worth the relational cost.

    And to be fair, most of my conservative friends and loved ones weren't too horrible about the election, especially considering how strongly I know a lot of them feel about this stuff. Either that, or I've already 'hidden' the worst offenders or they have filters set up to keep me from seeing their political comments. That's also fine. Good fences make good neighbors.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  7. #7
    Senior Member Lateralus's Avatar
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    This guy's personal anecdote is silly. There were Republicans rubbing it in the 2004. They didn't have as many outlets, online, as Democrats have today.

    P.S. I sat out of the 2004 election. I didn't want to vote for the douche or the turd.
    "We grow up thinking that beliefs are something to be proud of, but they're really nothing but opinions one refuses to reconsider. Beliefs are easy. The stronger your beliefs are, the less open you are to growth and wisdom, because "strength of belief" is only the intensity with which you resist questioning yourself. As soon as you are proud of a belief, as soon as you think it adds something to who you are, then you've made it a part of your ego."

  8. #8
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    Quote Originally Posted by cafe View Post
    There is more to people than their politics, so as much as I sometimes want to, gloating is just not worth the relational cost.
    You're one in a million here on Typoc.

  9. #9
    Senior Member cafe's Avatar
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    Quote Originally Posted by DiscoBiscuit View Post
    You're one in a million here on Typoc.
    Well, I might gloat here a little. As much as I love you all, none of you gave birth to my favorite person in the world or have called me Sis since you were in diapers or had to share a dorm room with my slobby self or were in the first Sunday School class I taught. They may make me crazy and I'd like to change their minds, but I try not to instigate conflict over what is, in the great scheme of things, something most of us don't have much control over anyway.
    “There are two novels that can change a bookish fourteen-year old’s life: The Lord of the Rings and Atlas Shrugged. One is a childish fantasy that often engenders a lifelong obsession with its unbelievable heroes, leading to an emotionally stunted, socially crippled adulthood, unable to deal with the real world. The other, of course, involves orcs.”
    ~ John Rogers

  10. #10
    likes this gromit's Avatar
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    Many of my liberal friends would have cried if Romney had won, and many conservative friends would have rubbed it in their faces too. Not cool. It's unkind to laugh at people mourning, because their sorrow is real.

    At the same time, I kind of don't find the source of that sorrow to be "legitimate". The extreme emotional reaction people display upon hearing the outcome is somewhat telling of something kind of not... right with the culture. It is a weird kind of emotional fervor, beyond a thoughtful consideration of whom you think would do a better job. Personal identity becomes wrapped up in the outcome. Whether or not they supported their party's candidate in the primaries, come election time, somehow many people on both sides have come to see their candidate as a beacon of righteousness, and the opponent representing the source of everything that is wrong in the country. They are willing to overlook errors of judgement in their own candidate, and valid points that the other candidate makes. It's like an inability to deal with reality or something.

    The people who have actually done research, read about issues, formed a calm and reasoned opinion*, they aren't the ones I've seen despondent over the results, and they aren't the ones I've seen gloating either. In my opinion, the mature outcome for people whose candidate won is to feel glad, celebrate a bit, and then begin to reach out to the other side and begin to consider how we will rebuild the country and deal with the money issues. And the mature outcome for people whose candidate lost is to feel disappointed, and then begin to reach out to the other side and begin to consider how we will rebuild the country and deal with the money issues.



    *for the record I don't consider myself one of the people who is very politically knowledgeable - there's so much I don't know and understand about politics, just my observation of other people I know

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