|"It's finger-lickin' guilt"|
The German phrase for the guilty pleasure of rubbernecking - observing another person's tragedy with chilly over-interest - is now part of the American lexicon.
Schadenfreude is somehow connected to "poverty porn". Sure, I've always said their is a genuine "nurture" instinct at play, an innocence in wanting to help. The Charitable Industrial Complex is a crime committed out of love. Or self love (and love itself can be an uncomfortable mixture of the two - right OJ?). We care about the poor, and we love the part of us, and the part of others, that cares about them. See the Narcissus blog...
But is there a similar good German phrase for "discomfort with other peoples increasing affluence"? It's different from jealousy (which is the discomfort with affluence or conspicuous consumption, but relegated to those who don't enjoy the same - the "have nots").
People we have always thought of as "poor" start to resemble - well... - US. And today's NYT article wants us to see that as a bad thing.
"Keeping up with the Joneses" in English is the discomfort of being beat to the affluence by someone else, needing something because your neighbor has it. Like shadenfreude, it's comparative. But that's not it. This is more like the sneer behind "nouveau riches"...
What I'm looking for might be called Unbehagens Wohlstand, maybe. Unbehagen mit wachsendem Wohlstand....
When Bernie Sanders and Donald Trump, from opposite sides of politics, both get their panties in a bunch because China and Mexico aren't as poor as they used to be, it's a kind of discomfort with someone else catching up with us. It's kind of the opposite and equal of jealousy.
The New York Times has plenty to say about Kentucky Fried Chicken in Ghana. I liked eating there, was invited by my Ghana hosts. The article, which I've only skimmed, seems to be concerned with African obesity and poor health.
|Headline: "POOR NATIONS EAT LESS"|
But let's be clear, there was obesity in Africa (Cameroon experience 1980s) before there were KFCs there, and palm oil isn't an American invention. Palm oil is too expensive for very poor Africans to squander - poverty rations palm oil and other incredibly fatty foods.
The Indonesian and Malaysian / Borneo rainforests are being slaughtered by palm oil demand.
But let's be clear - the root cause isn't American culture or the Kentucky Colonel Sanders. It is AFFLUENCE.
Drinking alcohol is suppressed by poverty. Eating sweets is suppressed by poverty. But it seems to me that people alarmed over e-waste are actually alarmed at something else... that the poor they felt good about themselves for feeling sorry for have outgrown that role.
Unbehagens Wohlstand, much? Get over it, NYT.
In fairness I will will read the whole article tonight by DIONNE SEARCEY and MATT RICHTEL
but a friend / journalist who shared KFC with me in Ghana sent me the article and said I wouldn't feel comfortable with it.
Surely there's a better word for it than Unbehagens Wohlstand, but I have long noticed a human discomfort when you had the biggest house on the street 50 years ago and everyone else was in a mobile home, and now you look down the street and everyone's house is almost as big as yours. Bernie and Trump both tapped it. And it's irrational, because your home value actually goes up with location location location... but maybe we evolved to feel "lack of scarcity" means our storage bins have less value...