Thursday, February 19, 2009

THE ARFUL TRUTH ABOUT ALTRUISM

The other night I was flipping between the umpteenth re-broadcasting of the Westminster Dog Show AND a program on Psychologist Paul Eckman's work on facial expressions WHILE trying to read an article on INEQUITY AVERSION in Dogs ((audible gasp)).


INEQUITY AVERSION or IA is the preference for fairness and resistance to inequitable outcomes. Homescapeons probably inherited this trait from our ancestral Primates but other species, including Dogs, are also sensitive to inequities in favour.

Humans have turned inequity aversion into an Artform and many are consumed by it. Some are angry that others get ahead and some people fret and feel guilty or unhappy to have received an undeserved reward because they don't want to upset the proverbial Apple Cart.


"This seemingly self destructive behaviour is a willingness to sacrifice potential gain in order to block another individual from receiving a superior reward."

"In theory this response is essential in creating an environment in which bilateral bargaining and a level playing field can thrive."



Life just isn't fair but we think that it should be.


Homo Escapeons seem to have inherited this trait from our Primate ancestors but we're not alone. Recent studies have proven that Dogs intrinsically understand when they are getting pooched.


If Dog "A" is getting extra treats for doing the same bloody trick and Dog "B" is getting diddly-squat, Dog "B" will vent their frustration by either giving up and peeing on the carpet, or by opening a can of whoop-ass on the other Dog and the asshat who is teasing them.


It's true isn't it? We all hate..I mean "do NOT prefer".. to see others, primarily our perceived peers and co-horts, get ahead in Life...especially when they are putting the same amount of effort into The Game of Life as we are.


We tolerate instances when those "less fortunate" catch a break..as long as they don't get more than us, but we reserve our ultimate contempt for the polar ends of the Human spectrum: Downass Slackers and Lucky F*cking Bastards.

We all seem to universally disapprove of slackers, they can rot in their self-imposed, lethargic, limbo.
The same goes for the Lucky Bastards, a good example of this is the fact that everybody despises lottery winners.


Which made me think about my favorite German loanword, Schadenfreude. Schadenfreude (Damage/Joy) means the usually unanticipated pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others. Schadenfreude seems to be a hardwired byproduct of our sense of inequity aversion.


In order to alleviate the shame about how awful we are, I quickly searched for an antonym and discovered Mudita. Mudita is rejoicing and finding altrusitic pleasure in others' joy and well-being. Isn't that swell?

I think that if we are being totally honest with ourselves, we can admit that we do experience sprinklings of Mudita towards a very select, small, group that includes our close friends, those few relatives whom we actually like, and a handful of self deprecating acquaintances who work hard at pretending that they are one of us.

Schadenfreude, on the other hand, is liberally dispensed towards the vast majority of others..particularily the self indulgent, asshat entertainment and sports celebrities, politicians, and the uber rich 3% of the population who rub our noses in their excessive avaricial lifestyles.

I watched a show on Psychologist Paul Ekman and his work on studying the universality of Human Facial Expressions. Travel to any corner of the globe and you'll find that the every human face uses the same expressions for; anger/disgust/fear/happiness/sadness & surprise...big surprise eh?


Look at the list again and decide how many more of our universal expressions relate to Schadenfreude more than Mudita. It would appear that Schadenfreude has the edge. Whatever pond we're in, we want everybody to stay within our perception of equitable boundaries.

So if Life is unfair and yet we're taught from a very early age to play by the rules anyway, therefore it becomes painfully obvious why we blow a fuse when others disregard the perceived RULES of the societal equity contract. Road Rage is the most obvious evidence of the system breaking down and that is why some people go ballistic when others try to take advantage of them in traffic..

which is afterall simply a microcosmic metaphor of the Road Of Life.


Like most of you, I try to tame my SCHADENFREUDE.


Westminster Dog Show Anouncer:


Dog Number 293 The Schadenfreude.


This massive powerful Dog was bred in Germany to protect the ego and disembowel others who get ahead. The Schadenfreude is a "One Man Dog" and holds contempt for others. This headstrong giant must be kept on a tight leash and requires vigilant training or it will destroy your LIFE!

Number 293 the Schadenfreude.


Dog number 113 the Mudita.

The Mudita originated in India and was bred to please others and make us feel good inside. The Mudita is not a Toy it is a small working Dog and much more than just leash-candy. The Mudita is rare but brings pleasure to all with it's good natured personality. It's small stature makes it easy to care for and transport. The Mudita is gregarious and can be enjoyed by people of all ages.

Number 113 the Mudita.


So which of these Dogs do you unleash more often?
*Next week is another reading week so I'll be oot & aboot.

26 comments:

  1. Who let the dogs out?



    Well, somebody was going to say it.

    ReplyDelete
  2. I do not begrudge you your Knudsen Award for Smartest Canadian, if that’s what you’re getting at.

    Oh hai XL!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Oh Hai MJ!

    [avoids getting into intra-Canadian dispute]

    ReplyDelete
  4. hahahaha the Y isn't even anywhere near the J hahaha

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  5. Oh Hai DONNNNNNNN!

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  6. MJ
    You know darn well that I am given to these flights of fancy and it is important to have a mental masturbatorium such as this where one can make a deposit every now and then.

    Honestly!

    ReplyDelete
  7. so, of course, i was waiting for the punchline and then suddenly, yes, suddenly, i realized there was some serious thought going on...it was me, of course, so i stopped reading, sugar. anyway, i'm sorry, what were you going on about and what are ya'll reading? :D xoxoxox ;)

    ReplyDelete
  8. I indulge in schadenfreude every chance I get. I've come to realize that it's just a part of my characterological makeup, and I'm going to embrace the tendency in myself. So I say before you, openly and without shame, I'm a Schadenfreuder!

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  9. HAI!

    *clacks heels*

    Schadenfreude? "the usually unanticipated pleasure derived from the misfortunes of others" - "geschieht euch recht!" - Is that: "deserves you well"? I do not know whether road rage is Schadenfreude - where's the damage, the "Schaden"? I think road rage has to do with the limited space, like when one rat comes to close to the other rat, and the fun begins ...

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  10. I have bred the tiny male Mudita to the gigantic female Schadenfreude to produce the medium sized and well balanced Mudifruede.

    Like the Labradoodle, the Mudifruede is a designer dog who will appeal to the masses on both sides of the fence.

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  11. Where are these Mudita's so that I may do all in my power to crush their cheerful spirit..

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  12. Most unfair is how vertical breast-strokers get ahead.

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  13. A small working Dog...?
    Tee Hee
    Sx

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  14. I don't try and tame my Schadenfreude, and am very impressed to see the term..lol..

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  15. Schadenfreude for me. I'm just too aware of how much better I am than everyone else, so it puzzles me when other people get ahead instead of me...

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  16. That dog is HUGE but cute! He must weigh over 200 lbs. easy. My nephew has TWO of them like that and they're monsters!

    As far as Schdenfreude, yeah, I work with one whose last name should be that....God, she is tiring! Not an ounce of Mudita....none, zilcho, nyet, non....

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  17. mudita is my puppy.
    always.
    what!


    what?

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  18. eh... the S one please :)

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  19. I'm neither I think. I prefer horses ... or llamas!

    What has always puzzled me (and I don't think you've really touched on it here) is why people who get things they have EARNED and worked hard for ... are so resented by others? Is it because they dared to raise the bar for everyone? Because they cared enough to push others to be even better than they thought they could be? If that's the case, it is both sad and frightening I should think.

    I'm just saying...

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  20. The Poles are all natural Schadenfreudians. This Polish joke sums up the national attitude to anyone who makes a success of anything :

    There were three farmers - a German, a Czech and a Pole - sitting around discussing their neighbour who had a cow that gave vast quantities of creamy milk and had made him rich.
    The German farmer said: "I wish I had a cow like that, but one that gave even more milk."
    The Czech farmer said: "I wish I had a cow like that, but one that gave even creamier milk."
    The Polish farmer said: "I wish that cow would die."



    You had to be there.

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  21. I don't understand this Schadenfreude thing, I did laugh when you were holding the frozen peas on yer parts because someone who gets as many coments as you deserves cut lad surgery.

    Ok I don't network due to hating people but I deserve more nice things than everyone else just because.
    Hey did ya see that missile strike in Pakistan? bloody funny or what?

    I haven't laughed so much since that earthquake in India.

    Am I a bad person? a normal person? or just one with a well developed sense of humour?

    I must ponder this .......

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  22. I think Daphne Wayne-bough illustrated an important aspect of Schadenfreude: It is not only "Geschieht Euch recht!" but also "Ich gönn's Dir nicht!". I am sorry, I can not translate this properly - I miss many nuances of the English words, "Wort" und "Begriff" are essential here.

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  23. I don't think it's the feeling of it that's a problem, it's the acting on it. I think I'm kind of low on both those feelings, though - I don't often rejoice for others good luck (except in people I love), and most of the time I hate seeing others encouter misfortune.

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  24. no such thing as altruism. check out the "Selfish Gene"... any altruistic effort is merely aimed at the preservation of the host - in the long run. makes sense. so go f* your neighbor/friend/ex/favorite blogger - he deserves it!

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  25. I consider myself to be a well brought up Doberman, as the majority of humour is based on other peoples' misfortune.
    Altruism?!? What's that? And what's in it for me?
    :-)

    ReplyDelete

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