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Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

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Check your schadenfreude

6 minutes

Laughing at others’ misfortune is fine for ‘fail’ videos. It’s poison for politics

The German word schadenfreude describes taking pleasure in another’s misfortune – a combination of joy and amusement that’s omnipresent in everything from William Shakespeare’s comedies to America’s Funniest Home Videos. While relatively harmless in the context of, say, watching YouTube footage of a brutal bellyflop, in politics, it hijacks media coverage and pollutes clear thinking about decisions that have far-reaching consequences. In this incisive video essay, Evan Puschak (also known as The Nerdwriter) discusses the troubling rise of schadenfreude in political discourse in the age of Donald Trump .

Video by The Nerdwriter

Support Aeon

Ideas can change the world

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview.

But we can’t do it without you.

Aeon is a registered charity committed to the spread of knowledge and a cosmopolitan worldview. Our mission is to create a sanctuary online for serious thinking.

No ads, no paywall, no clickbait – just thought-provoking ideas from the world’s leading thinkers, free to all. But we can’t do it without you.

Become a Friend for $5 a month or Make a one-off donation

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