The primary emotion surrounding Brazil's 1-7 loss to Germany in yesterday's World Cup semi-finals: shock. In a sport notorious for 0-0 draws, it's just bizarre to tune into a match between two famous teams in the advanced stages of the world tournament and see shot after shot hit the net unanswered. Here in The Atlantic's office, staffers gasped at the TV as the total rout unfolded. Surprise is surprise, whether it happens in an athletic contest or in a TV show.
Univision is just showing clip after clip of Brazil fans crying and I get the distinct sense they're enjoying it.— Zack Beauchamp (@zackbeauchamp) July 8, 2014
I clicked, I scrolled, I read the mocking comments, and then I felt gross for doing so. What's the fun of seeing people miserable?
Then I learned of this tweet:
If only there was a German word for schadenfreude— Patrick Smith (@psmith) July 8, 2014
Oh, right, yes: schadenfreude. It's only natural. A study released just last week says that even toddlers take joy in the misfortune of others. In the early aughts, psychologists out to study schadenfreude, lo and behold, focused on European soccer fans. And they seemed to find what you'd expect: that the intensity of the feeling depends on the sufferer's relationship to the beneficiary's team's status, and that people more invested in the sport feel it more.