There's an old German word, schadenfreude, that refers to the peculiar joy that washes over you when you see someone else's misfortune. It's not quite revenge and not quite sociopathy, but rather that universal feeling that comes over you when you see a renowned political figure be held accountable for their misdeeds, or perhaps when you see a small and bratty child drop their ice cream cone on the ground. There's even a song about it in an award-winning musical about the NSFW lives of puppets (though be warned, this song also contains lyrics that are similarly NSFW).
Schadenfreude is exactly how we would describe the particular sensation that comes over us when watching these ubiquitous clips of people being scared witless by a fake shark on a screen, as reported by the Daily Dot. It's absolutely hilarious.
Just watch this first example.
The shark lives (albeit in pixels) at an exhibit in the International Spy Museum. The museum's gallery Earth Redesigned offers a number of experiences that imagine what the world would look like if nuclear weapons wiped out the human race.
One of these works features the virtual shark tank, a large three-paneled screen that shows a glassy blue ocean you can touch. Shark after shark slowly glides by, making you wonder if there's a greater point to it all.
And just as you've tired and want to move on to the next exhibit, BLAM and there it is: a larger-than-life animated shark swimming headfirst at you and seemingly cracking the glass wall of its tank as if it wants to devour you alive.
Scary, right? It's downright terrifying, even though everyone who sees this shark knows they are not, in fact, looking at a real shark, but simply one on a screen. But in the heat of the moment, when adrenaline rushes toward the brain and nerves light up, it's easy to forget.