It's difficult to overstate the percentage of entertainment for people in my age group that consists of finding someone more pathetic and mocking them until we feel better about ourselves. It's an intersection of three factors: basic psychology, the vast opportunities provided by the internet, and the fact that most of our lives blow. Go ahead and canvass the 25-35 year olds in your life. See how many of them are unemployed, temping, minimally employed, or working but drowning in student loans. Hitting 30 and realizing that you have absolutely nothing nudges one toward the crueler end of the comedy spectrum.
Like People of Walmart, aka my favorite thing ever. It's an extraordinarily popular website based on the very basic premise that "At least I'm not that guy." It's not something we're proud of, but let's not kid ourselves. When you've spent 9 hours in a cubicle before walking home to your fourth-floor efficiency that you can barely afford, a self-esteem boost and a hearty chuckle (well, we tend to cynically snicker) are in order. After mailing out 75 job applications – for jobs that 500 people will apply for – it seems logical to say "Man, this job market is really a HOLY SHITBALLS WHAT IN THE NAME OF GOD IS THAT???"
Haven't cleaned your bathroom, washed the dishes, or done laundry in three weeks? Well A&E has a neat little show called Hoarders, the sole purpose of which is to make you feel like less of a slob. You'll feel slightly better about failing to take out the garbage for a week or two when you see a woman who lives waist-deep in back issues of Life…and better still when the people cleaning out her kitchen find a dead cat beneath twenty years of pizza boxes.
These are but two examples. It's a sad trend, I suppose, but that doesn't stop me from participating (at least in People of Wal-Mart; I'm not much of a Hoarders fan yet despite Scott N.'s noble effort). Are we bad people? Probably. Is the popularity of this kind of entertainment surprising? Of course not. There's a very good reason that so much TV and so many of the most popular websites falls into the "reality" category. It certainly doesn't depict our reality, and that's the whole point. Show us someone else – someone dirtier, dumber, poorer, and preferably fatter – who makes our phenomenally disappointing forays into adulthood feel like something short of complete failure.
Which brings us to Fail Blog, appropriately enough.