Tuesday, December 15, 2009

beneath all the laughter

Tuesday, December 15, 2009

While chatting over dinner with classmates from high school whom we are not really close with, even before, we feel something that we know we shouldn’t be feeling. The Germans have the perfect word for it: schadenfreude. The enjoyment we get from the troubles of others. Dripping with condescension, we outwardly sympathize yet innerly laugh when we hear that a former classmate is living an attenuated and less than perfect life; we judge a person, calling her hopeless, when we do not even know what’s going on in her life; with dismissive scorn, we continue to hate those we secretly envy, and we convince ourselves that we are better off than they are.

Is this the devil inside of us battling to be let loose? Or is it purely an inexorable part of human nature?

In reunions we never get to show who we have become. It always sounds as if we are bragging, even if we’re not. Others always perceive us as the bumbling fools we were before and not who we are now. We thought we’ve changed, but with them we act out the parts previously assigned to us; we are limited to reminiscing about follies of the past, because we’re afraid that without them we might not have anything common to talk about.

Beneath all the laughter is a gaping void.


witsandnuts said...

I think it is part of human nature. It becomes demon-like when these info consume us, to the extent that we are feeling better just because we assume we are in a better situation than the others.

When we had our high school reunion in 2006, I/we felt glad and sad (for some) with different reasons for what we have became. But in general, we were happy to have catched up with each other's lives. And we were endlessly talking about how we can help one another. =)

Kayni said...

i'm guilty of that...specially if that person was a rival back then. wits is right, i used to think it's abnormal, but i also think it is a valid human emotion.

Anonymous said...

Really deep stuff Angeli.

mordsith said...

our high school is going to have a general alumni homecoming this december. more likely than not, i am not attending. perhaps, i don't want to feel that void. it's been a while since then, and i feel almost totally disconnected from people back then. perhaps i am not attending because i want to leave things as they were before.

Anonymous said...

haggard naman ang post mo! kakaget- together pa naman namin dito... it does smack of the truth though- that is undeniable.

My 2 cents: i think that for people whose worlds have not really gone beyond the confines of the past- the choice to linger on past follies and "parts previously assigned to us" is an easy one. it is familiar and to those who were popular, a great social interactional leverage. for those who have broken barriers, it does seem like bragging when one talks of who one is now... hopefully though, we don't find pleasure in other people's suffering (that is just wrong) and maybe it is nice to see people from the past sometimes- it gives a sense of what we have been able to do with yourself and at the same time, it is fun to reminisce about past foibles and silliness :)

~ dina

p.s. what you do with the void you mention- now that is yet another choice.

jacqueline said...

there's a high school batch get-together this 23rd, which lorenz and i are not attending (it coincides with his company Christmas party), and i have another one on the 26th exclusively for our section... while i hope that i could only get the most honest chit-chats, i'm not ignoring the possibility of masked smiles...

but as for me, i just want to spend time with them, at least before we leave. most of them are my friends and kumares, too.

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