Tag Archives: Schadenfreude

The Decade Challenge Sucks

The hottest and latest trend to be hitting social media (at least Facebook as I can’t speak for other social media websites) seems to be something called “the decade challenge” or whatever. The “challenge” involves finding and posting a picture of yourself from ten years ago, way back in 2009. The only “challenge” to it seems to be finding a decent picture of yourself from a literal decade ago and then maybe having the courage to post it. I don’t really know what the actual point of doing this is because all it seems to accomplish is either 1. showing how you haven’t aged at all making everyone else feel like shit or 2.showing how terribly you’ve aged in the past ten years and making everyone else feel better about themselves. You now look like a decrepit catchers mitt and how the hell did ten laps around the sun affect you that badly? The decade challenge doesn’t seem to have any positives to it at all except perhaps to get some well-needed schadenfreude in on your “friends.”

As you can tell I hate it. I always hate social media trends but this one is even worse. I think it’s because I’m strongly in denial about the fact that I’m getting older. I’ve been tossing around the idea of a “getting older sucks” blog post, but have been deliberately and purposefully in denial about the fact. “I would write a post about getting older sucking,” I think to myself, “but I’m not actually old yet! Who am I to write about that topic at the fresh young age of 33!” I’m constantly lying to myself and knowing that I’m lying to myself feels especially awful.

Denial until this “challenge” that is. With everyone around my age spamming pics of themselves ten years ago I can’t be in denial about it. While I myself don’t feel old, and when I look in the mirror I don’t think I look old, everyone around my age group has seemingly aged terribly in the past ten years. Who am I to deny this fact? I’ve certainly aged terribly as well and just aren’t aware of it or am just in denial about it.

As stated I’m 33 and I’ve always viewed this as the start of getting old, at least that’s how I thought about it as a kid. The thirties are when you’re literally and undeniably an adult. Your life is set. Your dreams have either been accomplished or you’ll never accomplish them. The thirties is when you’re past the point of turning back. You’re well on the road to middle age, old age, and death. You can’t turn back or change anything about your life when you’re past thirty. It was a bleak outlook.

Obviously I don’t feel that way now that I’m in the thick of the shit that is The Thirties. I tell myself —— who still feels like an ignorant teenager — that, no, the thirties aren’t old! Maybe you’re “old” when you’re in your forties or even fifties! Or maybe there is no such thing as being old! But then I think of my grandma who can barely walk, whose hands look like those of a skeleton with just a thin layer of skin draped over the bones. She is frail and her mind isn’t what it used to be. Being old is undeniably a thing, but it doesn’t have a clear beginning. It just slowly creeps up on you so you have a hard time considering when you “start” being old. Since I’m in my thirties, I still feel this point is a long way away even though my beard is irreversibly grey and the bags under my eyes are becoming more pronounced.

Most of my friends are the same age as I am, give or take a few years. Seeing their decade pictures on Facebook is like a mirror held directly up to me. People that are the same age as me look old. Even the ones that don’t exactly look old look changed; they don’t look the same as they did ten years ago, even if they still appear young.

One of my friends still looks pretty young, and his picture from a decade ago is framed in the exact same way making a comparison very easy. His hair is longer now and he hasn’t gotten fat, but around his eyes are unmistakable wrinkles that weren’t around in the photo from ten years ago. He is one of the people that don’t look old, but where something is definitely happening with time. He’s on the verge of looking old even if he isn’t quite there yet.

Another girl I know looks nearly the same as ten years ago, but with the same telltale wrinkles around her eyes. Her cheeks are a little fuller and saggier than from 2009, but she is still youthful and pretty. Once again time is working slowly and even if she doesn’t look old yet, you know her 2029 pictures will be terrible.

One guy who I totally describe as “a hipster” used to be very tall, thin, and wore glasses: the classic hipster. He only listens to music on vinyl. He only listens to music you’ve never heard of. His picture is now of a kinda chubby, “dad-looking” person even though he has no kids. He now has a slight double chin. His hair looks to be thinning. He wears sweaters that are of the classic “dad-style”. He tucks his shirts in. His picture is that of a classic old person who seems oblivious to the fact that he’s old. He’s my age. And he is unmistakably old.

I don’t think other age groups have this issue with the decade challenge. If you’re in your twenties your past pictures will be of a teenager. You’re now an adult, congrats! And if you’re in your forties or fifties I’m assuming you look about the same as you did ten years prior. But the thirties? Now we’re comparing pictures of an old thirty-year-old to a fresh and young twenty-year-old. This decade seems to take the most toll on both body and mind and people outside of this age group can’t appreciate the pure hell of it.

As for myself, how am I different from ten years ago? I don’t know. I think I look the same. Luckily I’m not the type of person to have tons of pictures of myself, and those that do exist are buried and forgotten somewhere I’m not aware of. Perhaps they’re on hard-drives, forgotten/lost SD cards, or in family picture albums somewhere. This is nice because I can have plausible deniability as to how much I’ve aged in the past decade. I can’t see myself from 2009 so I don’t know. And I’m fine with that. But it’s hard to ignore the slew of people on social media posting pictures from a decade ago that you’re the same age as. Some look old, and if they don’t look old, you can still see time making it’s slight and permanent cuts in their faces, slowly but surely carving them with the same patience that carved the Grand Canyon. Even if you’re spared this decade, the next one will get you. And if not that one, surely the one after that. Or the one after that. The decade challenge fucking sucks.

Facebook Sucks: “reverse-schadenfreude”

Schadenfreude: enjoyment obtained from the trouble of others.

I’m going to make another word to describe a certain phenomenon on Facebook: reverse-schadenfreude.

Reverse-schadenfreude: self-loathing obtained from the success of others.

A bit about me first: I’m a white male in my 30s who lives in Rockford, Illinois. I have a single part-time job that nets me about $20,000 in a year. I’ve been there for 12 years. Everytime I try to work a second job and do the full-time job thing, I end up quitting. I sleep really late and my BMI is 28.6 meaning I’m officially overweight. I like to play video games and I write two shitty blogs. I have a family and some kids but that doesn’t redeem my view of myself: I’m by most measurements a loser.

You might be a loser too.

Think about your Facebook friends. I bet some aren’t as big of a loser as you are. And I bet some are downright successful. That’s my experience at least, and seeing as I’m as average as can be I assume everyone has Facebook friends that are successful. I have a few friends who are doctors. We went to high school together so it’s not like they’ve had a different life situation than I’ve had. They just went to school and are now doctors. I went to school and got an associate degree and work a job that doesn’t require a degree. Wow. I have some friends who live in warm climates. They somehow made enough money and had enough motivation to move where you’re not in danger of dying if the furnace goes out. Hell, I’m too insecure to feel comfortable shopping by myself. Some friends run faster than I do and some seem much more happy on the surface. They’re always smiling and posting pictures on Facebook! Some have bands and play music for real and some are paid photographers with their own businesses. Some couples I know actually get to go out on the weekends and enjoy themselves instead of being stuck at home with kids nonstop. So, naturally, I think of me sitting here at a dirty table typing on some shitty low-end laptop a blog post that about 5 people (maybe) will read I can’t help to think what did I do wrong? Did I really piss away 30 years of life and do nothing?

What’s stupid is this also works in reverse: by seeing other people with shitty lives you feel better about yourself. This is called schadenfreude and is only a cheap sort of goodness. You might feel better seeing that Cindy from High School is living in poverty because you sure aren’t and, wow, she must’ve really fucked up her life somehow! Or you see people dating total douchebags and realize (and laugh about) how stupid they must be. At least I’m happily married! Like I said, you feel better about yourself but it’s at someone else’s expense. It also takes a total narcissist to not be able to pivot this into how others see you, and then you end up thinking like the paragraph up above and loathing for your own life. Even if you do feel better and other people’s misfortunes, it probably isn’t healthy at all.

If you’re smart you’re probably seeing where I’m going with all of that and how we shouldn’t ever measure our worth based on others. I just think this is how people just are though. You might think you can hop on Facebook and not compare yourself to others but we’re social creatures that have a social hierarchy and I tend to think it’s instinctual to compare yourself to others. If you hop on Facebook and see others doing shitty, you’ll feel better about yourself. If you hop on Facebook and see others doing better than you, you’ll feel shitty. Since everyone is basically average, this will most likely cause you to be rather conflicted and moody because you don’t appear to be a clear winner or loser. Do you suck at life or are you awesome? Where are you on this social spectrum of failures and winners?

I think Facebook forces you into this mode of thinking and it’s bad from the start. You can’t see other people and not compare yourself to them. It’s just impossible or at the very least really hard to do. By not partaking in Facebook you skip over this problem all together. By not seeing people living their everyday lives and comparing yourself to them you save yourself the struggle of knowing if you’re better or worse than everyone else. If this information is gone, surprisingly, you just live your own life and do what you want to do. You stop trying to have a bigger social penis than everyone else and just live life.

I really think this is the worst aspect of Facebook by far. Sure you get an overdose of news and sure you spend time browsing and doing nothing, but the real harm comes from measuring yourself against everyone else. Your happiness is your own and no one else has any say in it. By comparing yourself to others they magically become part of how you measure your self-worth and usually ends up tearing it down: happiness, self-confidence, motivation, everything. You alone know who you are and what you like to do in life, so do it. Some jackass fucker on Facebook that you know from work has no bearing on this despite how “successful” you think he is. Facebook Sucks.

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Disregarding the fact that this isn’t the real Bill Murray apparently (I researched it because I don’t want to spread bullshit), it’s a pretty accurate statement.