The disconnected look into “enjoying” the suffering of others.
So, I was sitting here, flipping through my phone’s Facebook app this morning. I found myself constantly swiping past multiple posts which were titled things like, “this man yells at his wife one to many times, and you will never guess how it ends,” or “watch what happens when this girl takes one step too far off a building – you won’t believe what happens,” or “Check out the ugliest pictures of people that should never have been taken.” At this point, it’s like I’m hypnotized if I’m not paying attention. Somehow, someway I occasionally find that I am drawn to this craziness – in a car-accident-curiosity-type of way. I found myself robotically clicking and reading because they have piqued my curiosity – It must be in the tag line “You’ll never guess how it ends.”
As I perused the slew of useless and crazy news-feed on my Facebook, my internal dialogue sounds something like this: “WTF are you reading this for?” and “WTF is with people posting stupid shit like this,” and “Who is taking the time to type a response to these things?” Still, I am left with an unanswered question:
“Why are we drawn to seek out the pain and suffering of others?”
No one wants to suffer consciously. Suffering hurts. So why gawk at the suffering of others? Is it because it makes us feel better about our own lives? Does it make me feel better about mine? Not really. It makes me sad that as a species that we may be devolving. I used to need and require an external source to validate my happiness. I used to need things to feel better about me. I used to need certain clothes and shoes to give off an appearance to show that I am something. I needed to fill my outside to fill my inside. But those days have long passed. I digress.
I used to watch the “Jerry Springer Show” when I was younger because like a car accident- I had to see what was going to happen! Interestingly, I was more amazed at the crowd’s reactions than I was with the panel members on the stage. I used to think, “Why is the crowd so hype, involved, opinionated, and so damn angry? Maybe the reason is explained by Carl Jung’s theory of the collective unconscious: This collective unconscious does not develop individually but is inherited. It consists of pre-existent forms, the archetypes, which can only become conscious secondarily and which give definite form to certain psychic contents.
Jung linked the collective unconscious to what Freud called “archaic remnants” – mental forms whose presence cannot be explained by anything in the individual’s own life and which seem to be aboriginal, innate, and inherited shapes of the human mind’.
Is it a common subconscious belief that we feel better about ourselves by seeing others suffer? I can hear my younger self saying “Wow, I sure am lucky I’m not like that! Seeing those people [suffering] really makes me appreciate my life.” To me that chain of thought feels so careless, apathetic and disconnected. I have generally moved past that, but once in a while I watch from an outside perspective to see how people corroborate by sharing and commenting (ROFL, LMFAO, LOL, OMG) on internet trends such as “the knock out game,” videos of serious injuries and people who are called (ironically enough) “ugly people.” For some-odd reason we want these kinds of primitive behaviors to go viral.
I thought viruses make us ill!
I understand about escapism. I do. I watch these videos on occasion and do find some primitive enjoyment from them but I know deep down in my soul that my heart isn’t any warmer, my spirit isn’t any brighter and my sense of self isn’t any better. Sometimes I just have to shut it off abruptly because I get angry. Sometimes I click on the comments with the hope that there is someone affirming what I have said here. Then, I can have more hope that we as a species can move beyond being the apathetic witness of collective suffering. There are 300 million people in this country – I can’t be alone in this, can I?