How Many Safety People Know What Schadenfreude Means?

How Many Safety People Know What Schadenfreude Means?

imageFrom the Oxford Dictionary:


  • Pleasure derived by someone from another person’s misfortune.

    ‘a business that thrives on Schadenfreude’

    ‘a frisson of Schadenfreude’

    Origin: German Schadenfreude, from Schaden ‘harm’ + Freude ‘joy’.

If you waste any time on LinkedIn then you would realise that the posts that get the most number of views, likes and comments are those that feature a meaningless aphorism meme, a video by an 18 year old woman sharing her extensive entrepreneurial experience and leadership wisdom or, somebody rescuing a family of ducks.

What is even more disturbing is the number of likes, shares and comments on videos showing people getting injured at work or, even more disgusting, showing them getting crushed or electrocuted to death. The self righteous, hindsight based comments from “safety professionals” are usually along the lines of: “hilarious”; “you can’t control stupid”; “another Darwin award winner”; “wouldn’t happen on my watch”; “they are idiots in the 3rd world”; “OSHA wouldn’t be happy”; “great learning example, I’ll use that at my next safety meeting”; or, a detailed explanation of what when wrong and how to prevent it (based on a 10 sec clip and no context).

Pretty sad that safety people, many of whom claim to be in the game because they care about people, would use the demise or death of others to justify their existence or to show their relevance and superiority.

I’ve given up commenting on these videos on LinkedIn as I get accused of being “warm and fuzzy” – I just report the posts as being “Inappropriate for LinkedIn” (but where would LinkedIn be without all that rubbish?)

Is this Schadenfreude, voyeurism, insecurity or some other “ism”? I’m more interested in hearing your thoughts below than expressing any more of mine.

You might enjoy this article for more on Schadenfreude:  The truth about schadenfreude: Why we find joy in another’s misfortune

7 Replies to “How Many Safety People Know What Schadenfreude Means?”

  1. Absolutely agree, I was never keen on LinkedIn I turned off and closed down my account when I read something from a so called Safety Manager for a major grocery supply chain scoffing and shaming a contractor who had had a truck roll while delivering some of their stock. I wished I had the perfect world that Safety Manager lived in.

    1. Yeah I left LinkedIn a while ago because of trolls. I went back after a couple of years and it seemed to have improved but it now seems like a pointless waste of time and a platform for the omniscient and omnipotent and their sycophantic followers – and those who’s silly aphorism memes don’t get enough attention on facebook or twitter.

  2. This isn’t a justification for that side of LinkedIn as I agree with the point about the trash that rolls through my feed, it is mind numbing and frustrating. On a positive side I have made some really useful connections and have also used it as a platform for testing ideas and sharing learning. That said back to the issue here, as I understand it. The “look at them, how stupid” type posts indicate how entrenched the view is for some that safety is what intelligent, informed and concerned people do for or to the stupid and the lazy. This is reinforced by these clips of “evidence”, but flies in the face of the somewhat alternative approach, (dare I use the overworked term of safety differently?) that does have the concept that those who do the work are best placed to understand and describe it and also can probably adapt and look after themselves even, if only there was trust. The conceit of work making us free is not quite far reaching enough. Learning makes us free and if real learning took place in more organisations there would be a focus on learning about the reality of work rather than the forced transfer of information. If management learnt from others they would possibly trust them enough to free them from the constraints of following the imposed rules. I believe that this would be a way to get real change in safety but the start would be for a transformation in attitudes about who really needs to learn first and from whom.

  3. Got off Linkekin ages ago, especially anything connected to unprofessional safety. Dumb down is all that is there and the pooling of ignorance. Better still read a non-safety book and increase your education and learning.

  4. Hey Dave I totally agree and am saddened more and more every day to hear the Safety thinking across industries. When we laugh at the demise of others no-one stops and thinks about the time that they made a mistake, mishap or an ‘oh shit moment’. Ignorance is rife….and a bloody shame.

    1. When we are driving along the freeway we always think the slower driver in front is a cautious idiot and the person over taking us is a reckless moron, of course we are the best driver amongst them all! We certainly do need to stop and think occasionally

  5. I have zero tolerance for ” Self imposed Stupidity/Ignorance “. There are many people who are highly skilled in life, (not just those within our family or religious groups), and its many Perils. We have forgotten, or through “self imposed ignorance”, have ignored to ask those with the skills to regail us with a story of what happened when I was without skills or when I happened to stumble upon an occurance and survived and LEARNT from this instance.
    Education is not just about the 3 R’s its much more.
    The current “Nerds” or “Geeks” of society have a lot to answer for. The Internet DOES NOT have all the answer nor is it always correct. Remember its People who populate it with (mis)information. Yet an Australian or American Aboriginal, hmm Indigenous, people’s “story” of life experience is/can be very wise and can still be more relevant and correct than any history book or Wikipedia.
    Education, however or from whom you get it, is every child’s right. The more varied and widespread, i.e. from many different peoples, the learning the more intelligent, and hopefully more tollerant, adult the child becomes.

Do you have any thoughts? Please share them below