Why Are Other’s “Fails” So Popular?

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In a trend that has grown faster than one can blink, the word ‘fail’ has become a noun to describe an action or decision that did not succeed. While the verb form is still in use, the hijacking of this word into a noun has become a part of our every day slang. While I am not a fan of misusing words, I am more curious as to why other people’s mistakes and misery has become such a popular topic on facebook and other social media sites.

There is a group that calls itself FailArmy and it features video compilations of people attempting stunts or simply working out or participating in sports and something goes horribly wrong. There are some that feature simple things that might bring a chuckle and does not feature anyone suffering any real harm. However, there are plenty of them that show people suffering grievous harm due to a freak accident or overconfidence.

There are all types of ‘fail’ videos to select from. There are bad work days, car races that end badly, skiing and motorcross fails and even fishing fails. One category of these types of montages even spotlight often cruel practical jokes that often result in the hapless victim suffering physical harm as well as public humiliation.

So what has lead to this fascination with other people’s misery? Why are we drawn to the pain and humiliation of other people? This is not necessarily a new fascination, as we have always found the foibles of others humorous. There were the pratfalls and silly humor of the Three Stooges and the classic Vaudeville shows that featured pies and seltzer water in the faces that were always a big draw for those who found physical humor enjoyable. But, things seem to have taken a darker turn in recent years.

We have become the generation of instant gratification and 15-seconds of fame through the use of cell phones and youtube videos. Now, everyone wants to be entertained and what is more humorous than watching the downfall of others? Is there a deeper reason why we are drawn to suffering? Are we all so apprehensive of being laughed at or looking foolish that we can’t help but to find the demise of others almost a relief? Our fears of failing at life or at a task that holds deep meaning for us can cause us to feel anxious and lack self-confidence. Therefore, seeing that someone else has already looked silly or foolish is almost a stress reliever. But, still, why are we almost obsessed with seeing videos of mayhem and suffering?

We seem to have lost our sense of humanity and compassion. How do we restore the ability to feel empathy and to want the good for our fellow man? How do we want our children to grow up? I hope that my children will not be afraid to be the one to reach out and lift one who has fallen down, not the ones to laugh at someone’s downfall.

Writer Bio:  Angela Mose

I am a mom of 7 who has successfully homeschooled for 20 years.  I was married for more than 25 years and have recently started my life over. I have a passion for writing and music and when the two can be combined, it is utopia.  A Maryland native, I am planning to relocate north in the near future and will continue to strive to learn and experience new things on a regular basis. I am fortunate enough to be able to work from home while exploring new ways to increase my knowledge and skills and help improve the lives of those around me.


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