What’s the Opposite of Schadenfreude?

A Media Bistro announcement in my inbox informs me that,

Gawker.com video editor Richard Blakeley postponed the [monthly Media Meshing] party to next week to accommodate holiday hangovers, but he exclusively told The Press List that December’s Meshing will be the last. Blakeley says he’s doing away with the popular event because the economic crisis has left many media people unemployed and, “it seems kind of rude to be getting trashed when people are without jobs.”

I was never going to attend one of these parties, so I’ve got no self-interest at stake here but Blakeley’s reasoning strikes me as silly.  Almost as silly as some of the comments on Megan McArdle‘s Happy Thanksgiving post chiding her for being so public about the joys in her life when some are less than joyful.

Approximately 94 percent of Americans who wish to be employed are employed.  Even in the best of times, some Americans are miserable.  And, even if Barack Obama permanently ends that unhappy condition by deft use of his magic pony, one presumes someone, somewhere will be in something less than a state of absolute bliss.

At what point is it permissible to act as if you’re happy?

Further, if one can afford to throw large parties at public venues and would otherwise do so but for the unseemliness of it all, it’s worth noting that canceling said party will contribute to the very economic downturn causing said fear.

So, if it’s “rude” to “be getting trashed when people are without jobs,” what label do we apply to putting more people out of work by failing to get trashed?

Photo by Flickr user yewenyi under Creative Commons license.

FILED UNDER: General, ,
James Joyner
About James Joyner
James Joyner is Professor and Department Head of Security Studies at Marine Corps University's Command and Staff College and a nonresident senior fellow at the Scowcroft Center for Strategy and Security at the Atlantic Council. He's a former Army officer and Desert Storm vet. Views expressed here are his own. Follow James on Twitter @DrJJoyner.

Comments

  1. anjin-san says:

    “it seems kind of rude to be getting trashed when people people like us are without jobs.”

  2. Dave Schuler says:

    The opposite of schadenfreude is either compassion or sympathetic joy (depending on how you look at it).

  3. Bithead says:

    At what point is it permissible to act as if you’re happy? act as if you’re happy?

    And here, my freind, you’ve hit on a Great Truth.(TM)

    Of a kind with that:

    At what point is it permissible to celebrate success when any of us has failed?

    Why should we be allowed to make use of the financial wealth we have when some for whatever reason, don’t have not managed to attain finacial wealth?

    Etc.

  4. tom p says:

    Life is for those who are willing to live it.

  5. Brett says:

    The opposite of Schadenfreude is probably “Schadenreue.”

    There is a long history of folks in market economies having a little delicacy when it comes to conspicuous consumption during economic downturns. No point in encouraging resentment. Seems like good manners to me.

    And incidentally, I love the “94 %” argument – that phrasing would also probably look good, superficially, at anything less than 50% unemployment (Imagine: “I mean, more people who want to work are working, than not”).

  6. anjin-san says:

    At what point is it permissible to celebrate success when any of us has failed?

    No worries bits, we won’t let you failures dampen our Joie de vive…

  7. rodney dill says:

    Uffdah

  8. Bithead says:

    No worries bits, we won’t let you failures dampen our Joie de vive..

    You interest me, young sir.
    What failures do you think me to have had?

  9. anjin-san says:

    What failures do you think me to have had?

    I guess you did not read any of your own comments related to the election 🙂

  10. I presume that the 94% figure you cite is the good news version of the 6% unemployment figure. That same 6% figure does not count those who have quit looking for jobs. Some have estimated that the number of unemployed who quit looking is 5% of the possible workforce.
    That figure of 94% (who want to work) will still apply when those who have quit looking for a job equals 15% of the possible labor force.
    How valuable is your metric if it has little resemblance to reality?

  11. Bithead says:

    I guess you did not read any of your own comments related to the election 🙂

    So success or failure is now determined by your agreement?