Schadenfreude is defined by Merriam-Webster as enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others.
This is probably what Christopher Lao suspected of the bystanders and a TV news reporter, upon whom he unleashed a torrent of blame after his car was pushed on to dry land. He’s the dude who, in an act that baffled everyone who witnessed it live and on YouTube, bravely drove his car into what appeared to be waist-high floods during the last rains.
He must have really wanted to go wherever he needed to go and had a lapse in judgment, which he could have simply admitted. But what should be a simple news item transformed into a practical joke, which now justifies Lao’s asking, “Bakit ako?” (Why me?) as his Nissan failed to transform into a metal raft.
He is trending worldwide on Twitter, and somebody even made a fan page for him on Facebook, which has over 30,000 likes as of press time.
As our actions necessarily stir up reactions from others, Chris’ action drew comments from over 20,000 people who thought it funny, an epic fail.
But it isn’t so much this misfortune that got everyone talking about Christopher. It’s the things he said as soon as he got out of his flood-soaked car that made him the online sensation he now is.
However, whether or not to like the social media pages created to diss a flood victim online requires a lot of thinking before you click, because this clearly shows how prone social media is to abuse by some netizens who think they have the freedom to bash a person they hardly know, effectively making a group of cyber bullies out of them.
Christopher could have simply said he underestimated the flood, and no one would have noticed his five minutes of fame. Besides, he made a good point by saying that no one informed him. Perhaps no one would have. Tulak boys have a lucrative enterprise during flood season on the streets of Metro Manila, and warning potential “clients” is contrary to their business interest. Our driving readers are thus informed.
Surely we will all one day forget Christopher, but will he forget that one rainy Tuesday that made him the star on viral video? Schadenfreude—the social networking pages dedicated to that unfortunate incident are so full of it. It begs to add another word to our vocabulary that is the opposite of schadenfreude. It’s mudita, the Buddhist idea of deriving pleasure from the well-being of others.