Recently, I watched a video of Tech Insider and it explained why we secretly enjoy other people's misfortune. It originated from very long time ago, when food was scarse and it was necessary to live in small and tight knit groups for survival. If your group gets to eat something, other groups don't. Back then, you really needed to compete for food in harsh environments. It wasn't like now, when we have so much food that we waste most of it and many people are overweight, as we can eat and snack whenever and wherever we want. Once something was eaten, it was gone and there were no alternatives. If someone else eats it, you will be the one that starves to death. Feeling guilty and bad about others not being able to eat would have not kept you alive.

This "us and them" thinking is what makes us able to get so aggressive that we can deliberatetly harm others. It was necessary back then to fight for food, even if it meant that you push others off a cliff, but nowadays, it is better to have collaborations and kindness instead of hate, bullying, and violence. Using empathy to resolve conflicts. Although it is deeply ingrained in our brains to experience schadenfreude, we can change how we see things and adjust our behavior.

An example would be tabloid articles. I used to think it was funny to see unflattering, no makeup pictures of celebs and to read about outrageous scandals. They seem to have it all, good looks, fame, talent, and lots of money, so seeing them have setbacks too made me feel a bit better. But now, I think that I have a lot of unflattering pictures and moments too and we are only human. We all make mistakes and we are all flawed in one way or another. Instead of laughing at their misfortune, it is better to write a supportive comment on their social media account and feel good about yourself by being a kind person. Change is possible, just rewire your brain to feel happy and rewarded, when you do something good.

The "taking off makeup" videos also works in the same way. You may be envious of their pretty face and beautifully applied makeup, but in the end, you make fun of their bare face and you feel better about yourself again. I remember being a total party pooper, when my colleagues in Hong Kong were watching a "taking off makeup" video in the office during a break and were laughing loudly together. I wanted to join in, but I moved past that phase already and I couldn't laugh. All I could say was that I used to laugh too, so I understand the feeling. To make things comfortable again, I joked that if make-up doesn't do magic, what fool would buy it and pay big bucks for it.

I also remember a moment, when I was waiting in line for pasta to be made right in front of my face, and two girls in front of me were laughing when they saw a piece of garlic fly into the cook's eye, because it jumped up when the pieces of garlic hit the hot oil. I was surprised that I was able to suppress my initial reaction of laughing, as unexpected things and movements make me laugh non-stop, and look concerned instead.

I used to be really angry and easily annoyed, as I was tortured every day and nobody cared or did a thing to stop it, and schadenfreude was what kept me alive (I loved watching the Simpsons and South park for that reason too), as it made me feel better to realize that I was not the only one suffering and there was otherwise nothing else to laugh about in my life. I don't think the me back then could have predicted that I was able to change into the person I am today. What it took was feeling safe, having undisturbed sleep, lessening the constant pain and fatigue, not being around people who gave me stress, growing my self esteem, not having heavy secrets, letting go of getting justice and changing the past and just work hard so that it doesn't happen to others, not having to rely on strangers to protect me, being good to others without the fear of losing something, and getting kindness back. Once you are out of the shit, things gets easier.

I am not saying that we are not allowed to laugh at funny videos anymore, but there should be a realization that them is also us and laughing should never be at the expense of others. Satire originated from people who were too scared to speak up against the strong, rich, and powerful, but by packaging it as a joke, they were able to get away with it and let their message be heard. Shaming was not done to just hurt, but to strive for improvement.

Times have changed and we should let go of the old (but safe) and move on to the new (but unknown) future. Trust, don't be afraid to be vulnerable, and stay kind.

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