Social Question

erichw1504's avatar

Why do we laugh at other's misfortunes?

Asked by erichw1504 (26396points) December 14th, 2011

I was watching one of those infamous commercials where the old lady falls down and says “Help, I’ve fallen and I can’t get up!” and couldn’t help but laugh.

so, this got me thinking. Why is it so funny when other people get hurt or someting bad happens to them? Why are we so addicted to watching fail videos online?

Do you often laugh at other’s misfurtunes? What is in us that causes this? Or am I just going to Hell?

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27 Answers

Adirondackwannabe's avatar

Same reason guys think groin shots are funny when it happens to another guy. It’s not me.

comity's avatar

So, if I fell, you would laugh? Harumphhhhhhhhh! ; )

erichw1504's avatar

@comity Yes. Yes, I would.

AshlynM's avatar

Because humans are sick individuals who enjoy seeing others in pain.

Skaggfacemutt's avatar

I don’t ever have this reaction, but my husband’s family did. Once at a family barbeque, he stubbed his toe on the stairs and fell, skinned his knee, and my reaction was “are you okay?” as his family laughed their heads off. I just don’t get the joke. He was bleeding, for god’s sake!

Coloma's avatar

I don’t.
Sure, a little slapstick humor is one thing, but to really get off on others misfortune is a bad sign of ones own issues.

I never liked seeing videos that involved people, clearly, getting hurt.

There’s also the opposite side of the coin, those that resent others GOOD fortune.
I let go of a long term “friend” last year when it became apparent she was extremely resentful of some good fortune I experienced.

Her envy and jealously stained the fabric of our “friendship” beyond repair.

marinelife's avatar

It is a reaction to not having had the misfortune ourselves—almost a hysterical laughter.

wundayatta's avatar

Because it’s funny!


janbb's avatar

THe Germans – who have a word for everything – call it Schaudenfreunde and it means taking delight in others’ misfortunes.

Paradox25's avatar

I don’t find things like that funny. I can find an innocent mistake (or misfortune) funny under the right circumstances but I could never laugh at somebody else’s physical or emotional pain.

ragingloli's avatar

@janbb It is spelt “Schadenfreude”.

janbb's avatar

@ragingloli I wasn’t sure but was too lazy to look it up. Thanks for the correction!

ANef_is_Enuf's avatar

I really never laugh at someone else’s misfortune… without making sure they’re okay, first. If someone gets hurt, it isn’t funny to me.

It usually goes something like this: “oh my gosh, are you alright?? You are? You’re sure? Okay, hahahaha.”

wilma's avatar

I don’t laugh at those things. I don’t understand people who do. On some of those shows they show little children getting hurt, falling down or getting banged up or getting scared. I cringe at those videos. Who could laugh at that?

judochop's avatar

It all depends on the fall in question. Yes, folks laugh when someone steps backwards and slips off off the bottom couple stairs and lands somewhat softly. Yes folks laugh when you jump from the trampoline to the pool and miss…But I don’t think anyone laughs when you are crossing the intersection and get hit by a car.
No blood or visible bones=FUNNY
Pools of blood and twisted, exposed bones=NOT FUNNY, ever

annewilliams5's avatar

I don’t find that kind of humor funny. Most of the people who are being laughed at, are either the first to laugh because they want to deflect embarrassment or pain, or they are afraid they really have hurt themselves. Either way I don’t find it humorous. I see someone fall or get hit, and my brain goes into overdrive thinking of all the ways their body is hurt. Embarrassment or injury is nothing to laugh at.

comity's avatar

Never saw it on TV or with people I know, so can’t relate! It just doesn’t seem like the “human” thing to do.

CWOTUS's avatar

Relief (and a certain hubris) that they are not our own.

blueberry_kid's avatar

It makes us feel better about ourselves.

Bellatrix's avatar

I think sometimes people laugh at inappropriate times and it can be a stress/anxiety response. A bit like a pressure valve being released. I remember this guy using a steamer in an office I was working in and the hose came off releasing steam into the air. It was not even remotely funny. I didn’t think it was funny. I laughed though. I felt awful about laughing but I couldn’t stop. I actually felt very stressed and I couldn’t do anything to help him. He didn’t get seriously hurt thankfully!

Of course, it could just be the person laughing is a cruel ass.

Blondesjon's avatar

Because crying hurts.

rooeytoo's avatar

I personally first show concern but if there is no damage done and the person looked funny in the act, then I will laugh. Because it’s funny!

Sunny2's avatar

I’ve heard that it’s because you’re glad it’s not you that it’s happening to. I think it’s sometimes because you’ve had it happen to you and are thinking, “Oh, yeah. I know how that is.” It’s like laughing at something bad that happened to you. Why it becomes funny in retrospect, I don’t know. Makes a good story, I guess.

AstroChuck's avatar

Because I’m insecure and it’s funny.

Berserker's avatar

Last one in Hell is a rotten egg! ’‘trips’’ Goddammit.

partyrock's avatar

I used to laugh more at people’s misfortunes when I was younger. Then I went through a lot of bullshit, traveled around, and I don’t do it anymore. I actually get really serious when something tragic happens. Physical pain, or injustice.

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