How much schadenfreude is appropriate? Someone is coming down...


Well-Known Member
First things first, how come you don't have an authentic word for this very basic human emotion? Schadenfreude seems quite a mouthful for those who do not speak German.

But to on topic, there is this guy in my neck of woods who is currently in troubles to his ears. And you seldom see someone so skilfully adding fuel to fire when it is their own behind that is in fire. It is extremely amusing to watch if you are not feeling too sympathetic. And I'm not.

He is a media/television, sports and even more social media personality who endorses (irresponsible and harmful) gambling. Huge brown-noser and is (or at least has been in favour of few big names and even operating their social media for them.) Very big talker, actual deeds are the different thing. Seems to live big though his taxable earnings are more typical to 15-year-old who just had his first part time summer job selling ice cream for two months.

To understand the situation you have to understand gambling in Europe is very different from USA. It is not a thing you do once a month or year when you have a free night and head to casino somewhere. It is very much part of our everyday life. For example in my country every sixth person gambles more often than three times a week. Slot machines are everywhere. For example the closest store to us, a walk-in kiosk that sells candy, packed sandwiches, frozen pizza, ice cream and some basic food you can survive over the night and has total store surface of 150 square feet has two slot machines, they also have lottery tickets and book sport bets for licensed operators. Gambling is over half of their revenue. Big grocery store we use has separate room with about 40 slot machines in it. Every gas station, most fast food joints etc. have slot machines. In top 10 tv program weekly there is hour of horse racing that 99% people who watch, watch for gambling. Sports betting is a huge thing. I can't remember when I was in the bar that did not have a blackjack table or few. We do have casinos too, but they make up about 0,5 % of gambling.

Legally betting can be divided to licensed operators that can legally operate in this country both physically and online and market for us. Marketing and allowed games are tightly regulated. Endorsing irresponsible gambling is forbidden, marketing for youngsters of course too, addictive components (like lights and sounds) of games are very strictly regulated and so on. Not licensed operators can not physically be here or market here, but they can allow people gamble online as they wish. Gambling to them is also legal. They usually operate from some lax gambling regulation EU country like Malta.

What this guy I'm talking about has done, is to work as affiliate marketer to those un-licensed operators. He gets them customers and gets about third of the profit those customers produce. This is grey area legally. Operators make most of their profit from problem gamblers, so creating new problem gamblers is something that is in their best interest. It is also in best interest of an affiliate. This guy has understood that well.

He is close to forty, but dresses like he was 20. He tries to portray a lifestyle that would be a dream to many teen boys (fast cars, beautiful woman, having money, travelling a lot, one night in Super Bowl next week a tennis atp somewhere, a week in California in between, then El Classico and so on), he talks young (especially in Twitter, instagram and Facebook), has an other Instagram account that is targeted to even younger audience (but doesn't admit it is his, but affiliate code is still the same.) He speaks about freedom to do as you please a lot, those regulations around gambling are so lame according to him. He endorses people to make very large bets (like thousands to one bet), making sports bets that have many matches in one bet (if one of them has 50 % chance to be correct, having five in same bet makes a probability of winning 3 %. That one he doesn't mention, just an awesome win you can get) and other sure to lose (and addict) strategies. He gives raffles where you can win trips and tickets to those awesome games abroad to lure new customers. And tells how if you do not bet, you don't love sports. And only cowards do not take big risks. And how other people do (as in: bet) and others whine, because they are not daring enough. And he knowingly targets minors because the younger one starts, the much bigger risk for addiction and so more for him to gain.

Marketing for kids like that is not even grey area, it is pitch black. A crime. And now police is interested of him and others doing same. But that wouldn't slow him much, white collar cops and prosecutors are so busy that this could be too small case for them, but now he has tax authorities after him. He will have fun time in tax audit trying to explain how he finances his lifestyle with that ice cream seller's income. There are others who are in same situation with him, but have enough sense to keep their mouth shut and lay low. They are as much in trouble with tax officials and police, but at least they are not ridiculed by everyone and their business is not crashing down.

But this guy does not do that. First when one tv show started this whole thing, he tried to steer attention. Made an big time announcement in the name of one of those big names, whose social media he keeps up. It wasn't true. Huge deal and you can bet people started to take their distance. Her started huge flame war against media that relieved a lie. People started to ridicule like crazy. He makes another posting in the name of other of those big names to defend himself (or maybe this time got a permission from the big name, who knows), interrogation change to 'lunch meetings with high up police officers to ask my advice' when he reports from them and so on.

My personal beef with him: He was first and loudest to ridicule my kid when word about his gambling addiction started to get around. How stupid someone can be to get addicted to gambling, how lacking personal responsibility, how anyone with any smarts would never let that happened to them. How totally my son's own fault it was and had nothing to do with operators practises. And so on. My son had just turned eighteen a month before then and this guy knew it well. Hadn't gambled in half a year (that too was known.) It is strictly forbidden for operator to let anyone gamble, if they are not 100 % sure they are over 18. All kinds of marketing to minors is also totally against the laws even the laxest countries. Most operators my kid used had basically asked, if he was over 18, when he lied he was, it was enough for them.

This guy of course was not responsible for my kid's addiction. but he is basically a crack dealer making business out side of High School. And knows full well what he is doing. And tries to portray himself a martyr for freedom. Even if I try I can't muster sympathy for his fall.


Well-Known Member
Wow. I have no idea what schadenfreude means...but if it's a kind of mean-spirited satisfaction for karma biting him in the butt...Lots. Lots and lots and lots of schadenfreude is appropriate.

And your description of gambling makes me really wish I knew where you live...but I'm a blackjack girl myself.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
That is the million dollar question in every aspect of life. I love this post. How much schadenfreude before you tip yourself into a place you do not want to be.

And yet, there the feelings are.

You are right.

We have no word for this concept.

I had to think about it for this many days to find the taste of this concept.

Perhaps I would like to learn to speak or read German, now.


I cannot believe we do not have this word in English.

It is a meaningful and valuable word. I did not know that concept until I found it, right here in my heart, all along.



Well-Known Member
I too amn really surprised that you really do not have a word for this emotion. It is part of basic vocabulary in both of my native language. And it covers an wide spectrum, from very innocent to something rather dark but still very human.

The more innocent example: 15 yeas ago we had our winter vacation in ski resort. We did mostly cross country skiing that time because kids were still very young. Learning to cross country ski is not easy. It takes a lot of coordination, is tough exercise and little ones tend to fall down a lot and get frustrated. So we, like every other family around here taught our kids little by little, skied together as a family, encouraged trying, made sure the distances were right for our sons' current skills, routes were not too challenging, praised their effort a lot, reminded them that for every uphill there would be a downhill soon, made sure that middle of the trip there was a nice break with bonfire and hot chocolate, kept telling them, that no one knew how to ski when they first tried, but everyone just has to train a lot to learn the skill, distracted them with other things when they started to get tired and so on. And when everything else failed, we bribed them with candy ("-When the reach that next hilltop, we can stop and you can get a candy... (and little later) And if we can reach the hilltop without further whining, you can get two! -Three!!! -Okay, deal, but not a word more!") And then, low and behold, it was dad who staggered in one downhill, fell out of the route, sank to the snow so badly he had hard time getting back up without help and was totally covered with snow. You can't believe the mirth that caused. Last five miles back to cabin we were staying were skied with constant giggles and the mirth didn't get any less during the rest of vacation. We had to send a second post card from the trip to grandparents to describe this happening. Still, fifteen years later, someone just has to mention a name of that ski resort, and you will see the mirth in my sons' eyes. "Yeah, that is a cool place! Dad fell in that one downhill there!"

That is a power of Schadenfreude for you! :rofl:

But there is a darker side too. And I really do need to think hard, how much I can let myself enjoy a misfortune of others in cases like this person I was telling you about. He is a human being after all. Has a family. Is it wrong to feel good, that he is ridiculed? He kind of deserves that. There are probably hundreds youngsters, who are, or are about to enter the he** of gambling addiction partly because what he and other like him have done, and unfortunately way to many of them will end up to prison because of that or end their life by themselves. And more who will start their adult lives heavily in debt and nothing to show about it even though they have escaped addiction.

Still it not good for you to hope bad things to happen to others or enjoy their suffering too much. But at least I decline to be sorry for tax audit. ;)


Well-Known Member
at least I decline to be sorry for tax audit.
THAT is... Karma.
What you dish out tends to come back and bite you at some point.
After what he's done? It's his turn.

In my (subset of Canadian) culture, it is NOT ok to feel good that something bad is happening, even to the 'bad' guys. But we definitely do not feel bad at all when bad happens to 'bad' guys... :D They had that coming.

Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
I thought about this some more after posting. The action that seems unforgivable is knowingly corrupting, knowingly and heartlessly pushing the envelope beyond what society has declared decent for the sake of personal gain. Before you could condemn him without feeling guilty yourself, you would need to know what forced him to commit those repeated breeches of decency.

That's the thing. He did it again and again. Any one of us can make a mistake, do something we know is wrong. But our moral codes tug and pluck at us, and we stop doing that wrong thing.

Some of us spend inordinate amounts of time feeling guilty and making amends; others of us go numb.

So, why is this person different? Which is the moral code he is operating by?

Then, in all good conscience, you would need to address whatever created that capacity in him. Once you understood the why behind his heinous actions, you would have to try to help him change.

Or, you would have to decide, as a society, to do away with him.

A prison term, a death sentence, banishment. Branding or mutilation, as is done in some societies, so the criminal can rehabilitate himself while the rest of us are forewarned, by his appearance, to be on guard.

So what we are really discussing, in discussing this term, is the concept of justice, and where justice turns into vengeance.

We are discussing too, how it is that some of us justify our criminal behaviors, from theft to murder.

It would all start very small, it would all begin with a thought.

I still cannot come up with an English word for that lust of vengeance, or for our awareness that however justified the lust of vengeance is, indulging in it changes everything about us.

But is that a good thing, or is that a bad thing?

There is a concept here called "frontier justice". Pretty much, "hang 'em from the highest tree".

I think that accounts for much of our romance with cowboys, and with the cowboy lifestyle.

Simple justice, immediately taken.

Street justice, then.

I do feel something like this (leaning heavily into vengeance) about the male who beat difficult child daughter so mercilessly. Aside from personal vengeance, there is the moral issue of what to do with a human male capable of that level of viciousness...and right under that so civilized observation, a savage fascination with my own lust of vengeance, and with pride and with bloodlust.


The essence of what it is to be human.

This is the feeling used to justify dehumanizing the other guy for any of a thousand reasons. It is the essence of the feeling being exploited, here in America, to fan feelings of unfairness around issues of race and religion, around issues of sexual preference or economic or educational disparity into flame, into open rebellion.

So, it's a vitally important concept.

Schadenfreude is when it is still a small enough feeling that we can think rationally about it.

An interesting conversation.



Well-Known Member
I still cannot come up with an English word for that lust of vengeance, or for our awareness that however justified the lust of vengeance is, indulging in it changes everything about us.

We do have a word also for what you describe in my other language. In fact a direct translation for the word would lust of revenge. This feeling is considered very negative thing in our culture. It is seemed as a feeling that will morally corrupt someone who lets it foster in them. Schadenfreude is considered more innocent feeling. You do not actually wish bad for the person, you just enjoy of other person's uncomfortableness. There is also acceptable level for that mirth. It is considered totally al right to enjoy it, if the person with misfortune is not seriously harmed (like: it is totally okay to laugh, when too soccer players from the same team collide and fall to their bottoms, that is schadenfreude. If they get hurt when they collide (a bruise doesn't count), laughing or feeling schadenfreude isn't acceptable any more. If the person whose misfortune you are laughing at, has done something bad, the acceptable limit goes up. But still, serious physical damage (violence or serious illness), harm to someone else than person themselves (family etc.)is off limits in common moral code. So for example in case of this person I wrote about. Common moral considers it okay to spam ridiculing messages to his Twitter count or have a ridiculing topic in message board full of mocking messages. However, if someone would say same things to him in person, when his wife or children were there, it would be considered out of limits. Or would send nasty letters to his home address. He has publicly done things people find immoral so public mocking is considered something justified. Intruding his personal space would not be, nor would be mocking for example his wife (who is semi-public figure), nor would be talking nasty things about him when his kids could hear it.

By the way, there is one more word for a feeling I have never seen a good word or concept in English. Word is similarly built as our word for compassion, but it is a word for feeling shame with someone or for someone (when they do not seem to understand that they should be ashamed.) That too can produce this perverse sense of cleansing, when you for example watch some extremely bizarre reality tv show and cringe every time when someone in them does something they should be so ashamed of and it didn't seem to bother them at all.

Shame is one of the primary feelings in my culture anyway. It's a basic building block for our morals. Fear of shaming ourselves keeps us from taking money from the wallet we found from the street before taking it to the police for lost and found. Or keeps us from taking advantage from social security when we actually could work for living. Concept of face, one's personal reputation are extremely important. Some would say that our society is based on interpersonal trust. Everything works on the premises that the other people are trustworthy, that everyone does what is right and you can trust to strangers. We have locks in our doors more to inform that we are not home than to keep intruders out. In many places broom standing in front the door still works as a lock. Many outsiders do think we are naive, that it would be easy to exploit that trust, in fact some of our immigrants do so, and we are in bit at loss, what to do with them, because we do not want to give up our trust system. For some of them it would feel stupid not to take advantage of us, but at least for now being taken advantage for seems like a small price to pay, so we mostly just try to teach them, how everything would just work so much better if they would just follow our trust system. (And yeah, we are starting to threaten them with deporting them, if they do not want to learn.)

We trust people to do a right thing, because if they do not, the consequence is a loss of face, loss of good reputation. And that is about the biggest punishment our society can give. Our judicial system is extremely lax. Let's put it that way: for the murder one or high treason you can get a life sentence in prison. Anything else, maximum sentence is ten years. If you get a life sentence, you have a chance to parole in 12 years, average time you have to do your life sentence before parole is 14 years. Longest life sentence in modern times has been 22 years, currently there is no one in prison who would had served twenty years or more. To end up in prison you basically have to commit rather serious crime to begin with. And our prisons tend to be rather lax places too. Idea is not so much to punish but to rehabilitate. So the shame, the loss of face, reputation and others' trust is a main punitive consequence you get, when you do wrong. With lesser crimes and especially younger offenders we lean to restorative justice that shows step by step how offender can start to work on regaining the good reputation and trust of others. It is a long process, but can be done and it starts with accepting the shame.

I have watched that process with my son for four years now. For what he did, if someone would had informed the police, the sentence would had been either about 100-200 bucks as a fine or more likely no sentence after mediation process and amends agreed on that. Instead mediation was done unofficially and my son was left to make amends and was kicked out of team for loss of trust. A real punishment is a loss of reputation, first with smaller circle and later, after someone brought it public, in very wide circles. He has been mostly successful in building back trust and reputation in smaller circles but has still long ways to go with people who do not know him. When he plays, there are still people on the stands shouting comments about his thieving ways for him. He is still mocked in message boards etc. for that. Some people are upset when he is signed to play in their favourite team, if he plays badly, he is still very quickly "the effing thief" by fans. That is the real consequence of breaking the trust code in our society; loss of face, reputation and others' trust. If my son continues to the right things, show regret and accepting his shame, it is totally possible for him to build back most of that trust and reputation. People are already starting to let what happened go. Commenting to others, that it is already an old news, that Ache was young when it happened, that he has come a long way. Other four or five years and he may well have regained a good reputation and trust back.

For this person I wrote about, the thing that seems to set him aside of others who have basically done the same, is, that he doesn't seem to feel ashamed. And in our community you can never gain back the good reputation and 'face' if you do not accept the shame you have brought on yourself. Others are neither confessed anything (and really, there is a lot of legally grey area here), but they seem to recognize that they may have done something shameful. Try, or have tried before, to take steps back in areas that are considered most shameful (reminding their followers not to use more money than they can afford, reminding to be careful if it feels that gambling is getting out of control and so on.) Even if actions are very similar, that acceptance of the shame and trying to limit the damages, puts them to totally different place in people's minds even if legally they are in totally same position.

The thing that puts a person I wrote about on the block for general ridicule and mocking is, that he appears shameless.
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Scent of Cedar *

Well-Known Member
That is the real consequence of breaking the trust code in our society; loss of face, reputation and others' trust.

This is changing, for us. Jabber (one of our posters here) posted the other day about a man released from jail or prison having been picked up in a limosine.

In some instances, it seems almost to be a mark of pride here, to have been imprisoned. The rule of law is disrespected, or is believed not to be enacted fairly.

If my son continues to the right things, so regret and accepting his shame, it is totally possible for him to build back most of that trust and reputation.

I am glad. It is valuable for all of us when we can honor our humanity enough to understand that given the right set of circumstances, any one of us might have made those same choices.

I wish your son well, SuZir.

Even if actions are very similar, that acceptance of the shame and trying to limit the damages, puts them to totally different place in people's minds even if legally they are in totally same position.


The thing that puts a person I wrote about on the block for general ridicule and mocking is, that he appears shameless.

Which would mean that he is without remorse, and so, will do it again. In that sense, he is dangerous to all of us, both because of his actions and because others may be tempted to similar immorality.

So, the question becomes what to do about those who seem to have no remorse?

Then, mocking and ridicule would be entirely appropriate first steps.

But once we have done that, the door is opened for further dehumanizing someone now identified as more "criminal" than "human, like me".



Well-Known Member
So, the question becomes what to do about those who seem to have no remorse?

Then, mocking and ridicule would be entirely appropriate first steps.

But once we have done that, the door is opened for further dehumanizing someone now identified as more "criminal" than "human, like me".

In our society the next step is starting to shut doors in front of person like that. Nowadays 'doors' in sense of opportunities, in old times (and society really do not change that fast, values, cultural modus operandis are way older than we think) they were actual doors, not letting person like that in. Not letting them have an opportunity to bring more harm to us. This continues door by door until the person starts to show remorse or there are no more doors to knock. Old times that would had meant banishment from the village, from the society and very possible death by elements. Nowadays banishment tends to be voluntary and they tend to end up to Thailand (warm, sunny, cheap to live on, lots of western tourists to con.)

Or if they choose to stay, we give them flat and enough money for food and big tv and video game system and hope they are too lazy to do anything, because they have showed they are not going to do anything worthy any way. (This is way cheaper for tax payers than housing them to prisons by the way.)

Guys like the one I described tend to end up with first option. More common incorrigible criminals tend to end up with second option.

Of course the guy I have been talking about has not been even charged with any crime, may never be (there may be enough loopholes in legislation) so can't call him a criminal. I can call him an ar**hole, though. And this kind of publicity is likely to start shutting doors from him in media and sports fields even though he still has friends in many places.

Of course option of correcting yourself is always there. We have very few official limits for people based on their former behaviour. We do not have a concept of felony, even people serving those life sentences do not lose their rights, like right to vote. Your criminal record is swept clean 5 or 10 years after your last sentence if it was not a life sentence. You do not even get criminal record if you do not get prison sentence. Only type of jobs that may be out of the limits for you for lesser crimes are police, military, commercial pilots and things to do with national security. Even criminal record doesn't make a difference for your job hunting or being accepted to any school except if you are looking to work with children and you have certain type of convictions. For white collar crimes you may get a ban to work in certain positions for certain time. But if one actually wants to, there is always a possibility to have a second chance. To start over. Your reputation will take much longer time to heal. It will take time before people start to trust you, but to actually be able to function in society, to work and so on. That is easy if one just wants that.
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