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Why Do We Like it When People Fail?

Updated on August 22, 2011

Why is it every time a celebrity messes up we have to hear about it over and over and over again? Are we, as a society, that interested? or do we have nothing else to do? I know the media has to make a few bucks and has to exploit every little detail of a scandal. The media of course dictates what is news and what is not.. even when it is not news. But we listen.. and listen and listen. Why?

Obviously the celebrity in question is Tiger Woods. People are going crazy over the coverage of this man's indiscretions. Perhaps it is because of his squeaky clean image. Or maybe it is because he is rich. Maybe it is because he had a great career. Yes had a great career. Maybe it is because of all of the above. People will be watching as the whole thing plays out over months and months of media coverage. If it wasn't Tiger Woods then It would be someone else. We love to watch people fail. Watching people fail will trump all good. We could find a cure for cancer in the next few weeks and people will still be watching the happenings with Tiger.

One of the main reasons we are fascinated when others fail is it makes us feel better about ourselves. Yes yes even you sitting at your computer shaking your head not me. Its not that our self esteem is that low, but it does give us a boost of " hey maybe my life isn't all that bad". It makes us feel more successful than the person involved in the the scandal. Especially if a celebrity is involved in the scandal. Celebrities go by a different set of standards. Not standards necessarily imposed by the celebrity but standards imposed by us.. the non celebrities. We make false assumptions the celebrity has no or little faults. Celebrities can be good actors and only let us see what they want us to! Which makes it way more hard to resisit when a celeb falls from grace. We are reinforced that no one is perfect .

And Celebrities to us everyday folk are rich. Well most celebrities anyway. The ones who don't buy islands are a little better off then those who do.   We love it when rich people fail. Why? Because we are jealous! Deep down we want to be wealthy too!

 Gossip is unavoidable.  We are naturally programed to talk bad about others even if it is trash talk. We may be designed to talk about and judge others. Gossiping is a way to communicate we are secretly envious of others and may feel inferior to them.   On the upside of this MSN reported tow years ago that gossip can be good for you.  Even though gossiping can be a guilty pleasure it can also be healthy for you. Gossiping has been described as building a skill and helps build bonding.  Gossip is unhealthy when hurtful things are said to or about others.

 Another reason we are so fascinated by others failure is perhaps we have little going on in our own lives.  If you find yourself consumed by the Tiger Woods Scandal and you really weren't into Tiger Woods before.. take a step back and re evaluate!  Do you really have to know about every reality show wanna be on his list of indiscretions?  Don't you have more pressing matters in your own life?

For whatever reason it is our nature to be judgemental and to gossip. No doubt the mediawill exploit everything they can for a buck. One thing is for sure. Nine wannabe reality starletts will get their fifteen minutes of fame.  We love to watch people fail because it is just human nature.

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    • Painted Seahorse profile image

      Brittany Rowland 

      6 years ago from Woodstock, GA

      I think some people like seeing celebrities or public figures fall off their pedestal. Now we even have experts analyze the public apologies they make. Do they seem sorry enough, pathetic enough? Do they seem smug? Are they only sorry they got caught? There is some sort of perverse satisfaction people get when someone who used to have it good is brought down low by their mistakes or failures. Interesting hub.

    • salsaqueen profile image


      7 years ago

      We cannot assume that people who digest these stories are all jealous and so revel in their misery. In Tiger Woods case it was ALL over the place so you couldn't escape it even if you tried. Personally, these stories to me are just another source of entertainment, like watching a soap opera.

      Even though I know celebrities are real people with real emotions I cannot be blamed for the way the media works and the world of celebrity. I don't always agree with it and sometimes it disgusts me but I sometimes buy the magazine or watch the gossip shows on TV so I'm also buying into it.

      for me, it's a form of escapism. When I look at MTV Cribs or My Sweet 16 programmes I wonder what it must be like to have so much money, live in that 'crib' etc but I'm not sitting there waiting for them to fail. If someone makes their money through honest hard work why shouldn't they enjoy it (this excludes Paris Hilton and types like her).

      I too do not regard Tigers situation as a fail, just embarrassing. His career will continue as before. The story was a big one because he is a genuinely talented A-list celebrity, had a squeaky clean image and then shocked everyone with the sheer number of women he had liaisons with - you couldn't make it up!!!

      My only disappointment is, as a black man, Tiger will be judged differently to everyone else. when you are a minority in a field you HAVE to be better than the rest - not fair but true - if you fail the fall will be harder, as in Tigers case.

    • gmwilliams profile image

      Grace Marguerite Williams 

      7 years ago from the Greatest City In The World-New York City, New York

      Envy! There are people who are very envious of people who are successful! Theese people wonder why aren't they successful! So when successful people fail and/or make a mistake, they gloat! How sad!

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I think we love to see people fail because we love to hear the the gossip.I mean like when people fail it's ashame but it's interesting and juciy. I have my own Hub it's called "Celeb Gossip" go and check it out!

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wv

      Ahh but my skepitcal mind asks were these women for real? or just looking for publicity? I thought a lot of those gals were reality show wannabes! Thanks for comment!

    • stricktlydating profile image


      8 years ago from Australia

      My reason for following the Tiger Woods scandal was just pure shock! I thought he was squeeky clean and it was just shocking to see more and more women come forward.

    • eyeofh profile image


      8 years ago from New Jersey

      Allot of good points here. Very nice hub!

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wv

      Thanks Jyoti for commenting. You bring up some more good points.

    • JYOTI KOTHARI profile image

      Jyoti Kothari 

      8 years ago from Jaipur

      Hi Chievous,

      We are jealous. We can not digest one's success. When a celebrity slips, it negatively satisfies our ego and we like it from the inner core of our hearts. This is one of the reason behind it. It shows our own weakness of not achieving anything in our own life.

      Thanks and thumbs up for a thought provoking hub.

      Jyoti Kothari

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wv

      Very insightful JWB. Isn't funny how we hold those with "talents" at higher expectations then ourselves?

    • profile image


      8 years ago

      I don't feel as if Tiger failed, or Clinton, or OJ, or Blake or whoever's next to fall off our pedestal we put them on. They are still excellent at their talent. We are the ones that fail, because we put them there. And we are jealous of their success, and pissed at ourselves.

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wv

      CMHypno, I have nerver heard of such a word! And yes it is so true that we are not as nice as we would like the world to think we are. I know that first hand! ( it just took me afew years to admiti it!.

      hello creative one ! Thanks for your comment

    • CMHypno profile image


      8 years ago from Other Side of the Sun

      I think that they call it 'schadenfreude', where people are secretly pleased when other people fail or suffer. It's like all those video clip programmes on TV where we all laugh at kids/pets/elderly people coming to grief and having accidents. A baby getting a swing in the face is not funny at all when you think about it. Or when we are pleased when someone like Miss World falls off the end of the catwalk or proves to have a rather more worldly past than saving the world! We are just not a nice as we would like the world to think we are!

    • creativeone59 profile image

      benny Faye Douglass 

      8 years ago from Gold Canyon, Arizona

      What you say is true, in the people nature to be judgemental, although we aren't supposed to be. We're not to be joyful over someone esle's pain and disappointment, but it happens . we need t blessings to you. creativeone59

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Absolutely, remember Clinton and Monica????

      Charles and Camilla etc ???

    • Ms Chievous profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Wv

      Hey Misty!

      yep people love to gossip. If it wasn't Tiger it would be someone else!

    • mistyhorizon2003 profile image

      Cindy Lawson 

      8 years ago from Guernsey (Channel Islands)

      Very good hub that makes very good points. I agree, people feel better about themselves when they see others fail, and people certainly thrive off gossip... largely because of the same reason!


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