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TOTALLY NOT FAKE NEWS: The Latest Social Media Trend, and Yes, the Texans Have a Role in This

Maybe the Texans didn’t start it, but they are glad to follow it.

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In this photo illustration a Twitter logo is displayed on a... Photo Illustration by Omar Marques/SOPA Images/LightRocket via Getty Images

HOUSTON - With the emergence of social media, a new lexicon has entered most global dictionaries. Included among those words and phrases is “Doomscrolling” First emerging as early at 2018, this is the concept of people physically scrolling through social media feeds to read up on news that the viewer might find distressing or negative. This was an especially common practice for most in 2020, between grim news about a global pandemic, an contentious presidential election cycle and reviewing just about anything associated with the Houston Texans.

Yet, in the past few weeks, a new trend emerged related to many social media habits. Instead of “Doomscrolling”, people were engaging in what some experts call “Schadenfreude Scrolling”.

“In this sick, demented society, I guess it was inevitable that some people would devolve into this. We had the whole ‘doom scrolling’ thing. Yet, we have a LOT of people who are big into seeing people suffer. Thus, they are really getting off on seeing others lament over social media.” observed one burned-out social scientist.

A quick reminder for those not as familiar with the word. Schadenfreude is a German word that roughly translates into taking pleasure in others’ misfortune. It is usually a word that will win a few rounds of Balderdash, especially after some excessive schnapps consumption (or for the Texans fan, Lone Star chugging with Southern Comfort chasers).

Torontonians Paul Toyne; left; and Robinson play their game Balderdash; a favorite of the cast of TV...
Yes, you can still find this game around.
Photo by Bernard Weil/Toronto Star via Getty Images

“Our research shows that people like to engage in schadenfreude, publicly or privately. With the rise of social media, while ‘doomscrolling’ got all of the headlines, just as many people are taking pleasure in watching others’ misery. It just keeps growing exponentially.” the harried researcher noted.

Others confirm that this phenomenon has been going on for some time. Yet, analysts saw a massive uptick in “Schadenfreude Scrolling” at the start of November. Using a complex algorithm that we were told was too super-duper complex for us mere mortals to follow, they were able to determine that various post lamenting certain things were being viewed from those not looking to commiserate, but to celebrate the pain.

The Schadenfreude Scrolling Index went through the roof on the night of November 5th, when the Houston Astros clinched their 2nd World Series in 6 years. Various “experts” reported a sharp uptick in the number of people taking to social media, not just to express celebration or happiness, but to see what those who did not hold the Houston Astros in high regard would have to say. “Traffic was crazy busy after that final out. A lot of visits to Dodgers’ sites/LA writers. Bill Plaschke never saw such traffic from Houston. Don’t even get us started on the Buster Olney/ESPN accounts.”

Houston Astros vs Philadelphia Phillies, 2022 World Series
As many people as celebrating, that is but a fraction of those engaging in Schadenfreude Scrolling
Set Number: X164229 TK1

Separate sources indicated increased Schadenfreude Scrolling from Houston of accounts/sites associated with the New York Yankees, as well as some limited scrolling of Philly based accounts, but most seemed localized to a certain dinning facility.

While the Astros helped spawn this recent trend, Schadenfreude Scrolling was not limited to them. Others targets of increased Schadenfreude Scrolling starting in November include figures from Elon Musk to Vladimir Putin.

Celebrity Sightings In New York City - October 31, 2022
Now why would anyone want to engage in Schadenfreude Scrolling with this guy? (psst...can you wave the $8 fee?)
Photo by Gilbert Carrasquillo/GC Images

Yet, in examining the data, we found a surprising source of Schadenfreude Scrolling…many geo-located to areas associated with the Houston Texans, of all places. When we asked some experts about this trend, they were as confused as we were. Then, everyone looked further into the data:

  • Accounts associated with Dan Snyder and Jim Irsay found a lot of scrolling coming from IP addresses associated with the CEO of the Texans.
  • Accounts associated with the University of Alabama and their lamenting about “offensive underachievement” and missing the playoffs, while receiving the expected traffic from Athens, GA, Knoxville, TN, Auburn, AL, and Baton Rouge, LA, also saw some significant traffic from Houston as well.
  • Accounts associated with the Detroit Lions and Las Vegas Raiders received traffic from the Houston area as well, with one alleged message noting “Thanks for getting us that much closer to Bryce Young, [Easterbys]!!!!”
  • Even accounts such as those associated with Arlington, Deep Southern Oklahoma, er, Texas, received a lot of Schadenfreude Scrolling, especially after Sunday night.

“Strange that a team like the Texans would be engaging in Schadenfreude scrolling” noted one expert. “Then again, given their situation, it may not be that big a shock. I think the standards are a little lower for them, but whatever makes them happy.”

Concurrently, Houston Texans’ accounts receive a lot of traffic from locations such as Jacksonville, Indianapolis, Rusk High School…and from some street corner in a run-down part of Houston.

For that last one, there was reports that a ranting lunatic was manically laughing, noting “God has punished those who punished His Most Blessed Messenger. Divine Retribution will be mine!!!” From there, the individual proceed to hound people for donations to “The Resurrection of the Church of the EVPFO”, but after said individual received a total of 12 pennies, 3 gum wrappers, a signed Beto O’Rourke book, a dented White Claw can and two tickets to the Texans game against Washington, the street preacher sulked away.

NFL: Houston Texans-Head Coach Lovie Smith Introductory Press Conference
Photo of Suspected Street Preacher...
Maria Lysaker-USA TODAY Sports

Regardless of whether the term “Schadenfreude Scrolling” has the linguistic impact of “Doomscrolling”, people will continue to do that. The Houston sports market, to include the Texans, figure to be no exception. Will other trends emerge? If so, Totally Not Fake News will continue to keep you informed.