Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Here’s something that can be traced to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis: A rise in searches for “schadenfreude”

Illustration for article titled Here’s something that can be traced to Trump’s COVID-19 diagnosis: A rise in searches for “schadenfreude”

As was reported last week, Donald Trump and Melania Trump have both tested positive for COVID-19, along with White House official Hope Hicks (whose diagnosis kicked things off last Wednesday). In the days since last weekend’s mostly maskless meet-and-greet for Trump’s Supreme Court nominee Amy Coney Barrett held at the Rose Garden, several guests, including Republican senators Mike Lee (Utah) and Thom Tillis (North Carolina), have tested positive. Former Trump adviser Kellyanne Conway and former New Jersey governor Chris Christie have also been diagnosed with COVID-19 after attending the Rose Garden party, which is being viewed as a potential super-spreader event.

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There is, of course, a ban on gatherings of more than 50 people in Washington, D.C., which is just another set of regulations that this administration and president have flouted. The Washington Post notes that, technically, this ban on gatherings doesn’t extend to federal property. But yet again, the president’s selfish choices affect far more people than just himself—contact tracing for the Rose Garden event is going to be a nightmare (to say nothing of the other potential super-spreader events Trump attended.) But one thing is already being attributed to Trump’s diagnosis: the rise in online searches for the German word “schadenfreude.”

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According to Merriam-Webster, as of October 2, online searches for schadenfreude, which is defined as “enjoyment obtained from the troubles of others,” had spiked by 30,500%. A lot of those searches were likely made by people already familiar with the German word who needed something to illustrate their social media jokes, and what’s better than a screenshot of your emotional state? There were probably just as many people (on the right) invoking the word to complain that no one should exult in the news that the president has COVID, despite their overlap with people who were posting less-than-civil things following the news of Supreme Court Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg’s death. Schadenfreude’s going around, it seems.

Merriam-Webster lexicographer Peter Sokolowski added some context to recent lookups at the online dictionary; lots of people are also searching for “hubris” and “hypocritical.”

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