Secondhand embarrassment is like siphoning gas from one car to the next. Except instead of gas it's cold sweats and red blushing cheeks, and instead of a car it's your central nervous system.
Also, you want no part of it.
But it happens. Someone in your field of vision--or, even worse, someone you're interacting with directly--is so supremely awkward that you lose control of your own body so that all 206 of your bones can dedicate themselves to cringing.
It happens in a variety of places, for a variety of reasons, and lasts for anywhere from mere seconds to excruciating minutes that feel eternal.
TeachMeTheWayz asked, "What's the story behind a time when you felt secondhand embarrassment?"
Big Day Spray
"Had an interviewer come into our office for an important role, and she warned us that morning that she had been sprayed by a skunk the previous week so she might 'have a teensy bit of the odour lingering.'"
"Well we got in the interview room with her and it wasn't 'teensy.' We were wincing, coughing, and she looks mortified saying 'oh, oh god, it's really that bad? I've taken 100 showers, oh no.'"
"Super awkward interview."
Playing it Cool
"I was out walking my cat at night and sat down on one of the steps in my complex. My other neighbor comes out for a smoke. I smile and say hi. He lives in a building on top of a small hill."
"He asks who's that next to me and I say "my cat." But he didn't hear me. I kept saying it was my cat. She must have been in a shadow."
"He started walking closer to hear me better and he fell, rolled down the hill and his pants fell off.
I pretended like it happens every day."
Peering Over the Wall
"My boss accidentally kissed her work friend's dad on the lips in front of his wife and daughter and I low-key witnessed this unfold over my cubicle wall."
"The work friend had her parents visiting from Europe and was giving them a tour of our office. My boss was trying to do the European cheek-kiss greeting when meeting the dad, but leaned in to the same side by mistake and got his mouth."
"It was awkward as hell, so I pretended I didn't notice to save my boss from further embarrassment."
Break Room Banter
"A girl at work was talking about how her and her girlfriend went out over the weekend. Not explicitly mentioning same sex anything, just what they did."
"Another female coworker of ours literally goes, 'I've never been with a girl, but I let my one friend go down on me once.'"
"I wanted to die..."
Lunch Break Comes Early
"I started my career in a call center that handled calls from extremely wealthy people and their financial advisors. I eventually moved into a training role."
"Part of the job was to sit connected to a trainee's headset and observe the calls, help out, provide post-call feedback, etc."
"Well, one day, this guy is talking to a big client and his adviser. In the middle of a sentence, he lets out the loudest belch ever."
"That was bad enough but instead of apologizing, this knucklehead says, 'Mmmmm, meaty banana!!!'"
"That was his last day there."
That Should Do It
"My friend was giving a 15 minute presentation in 10th grade English class an about 4 minutes into it says, 'Yeah I don't feel like doing this anymore' and sits down."
"The teacher just stared at him agape like she couldn't believe what happened and asked him if he would like to continue. He was really red from embarrassment and flat out refused to go back to his presentation."
"The teacher got livid and started threatening with detentions and was shouting all kinds of insults at this poor shy kid because he didn't listen to her or respect her authority."
"I was embarrassed for the teacher."
"A teacher at my school was in a rope pulling contest as part of a fun school activity."
"It was teachers vs students, performed in front of the rest of the school. Said teacher was extremely strong and essentially won for the teachers despite competing against a lot of male student athletes."
"But he wasn't super well-liked, so when all the teachers were giving celebratory high fives, he was left hanging."
"I worked for an engineering and land surveying company. My aunt was the office manager. We were supposed to go to a company wide 401k meeting."
"One of our summer hires (seasonal work) did not want to attend. I can understand why someone who is only working there for 3 -6 months would not want to go."
"My aunt proceeded to ream this guy out for 20 minutes, ending with 'You just don't give a sh** about this company!' I wanted to crawl under a desk."
Reading the Room
"Kid I knew in high school was a total Sonic kid. Had a hat shaped like Amy's hairstyle that he'd wear and everything."
"One day he was a giving a presentation in History class and was rushing through it. Teacher told him to relax and slow down. Without skipping a beat he says, 'Sorry, I like to go fast.... if you know what I mean." and winks.'"
"Total dead silence as the teacher responded, 'I don't want to know, thanks.'"
Hard to Get
"I was watching my buddy talk to his crush, he got a little 'excited' during their flirtatious conversation and when she was leaving and went to hug him goodbye he declined bc he didn't want to poke her with his wood."
"She was hurt and confused while he was pained. I loved every second."
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Fame is one of those things people tend to want until they have it - or that people shy away from entirely because they understand how sideways it tends to go.
But what about people who end up famous after their deaths? Or who managed to get more famous from the afterlife?
Reddit user GCanuck asked:
"Which historically famous person do you think would be most surprised to learn they are famous?"
If your mind immediately went to that Vincent Van Gogh scene from Dr. Who then 1. you're a nerd (me too!) and 2. you're not alone.
Here's what Reddit had to say.
The Little Painter FellowVan Gogh Reaction GIF by GIF IT UPGiphy
"Vincent van Gogh."
"His paintings made billions of dollars for rich people, but couldn't trade a painting for a meal during his lifetime. Had to be supported by his brother."
"It’s amazing how many pieces he created in such a short time considering how unsuccessful he was in selling them while alive. He kept banging them out despite his 'failure'.”
"He was encouraged to paint as part of his therapy/rehabilitation. He was a pretty disturbed guy, and not in a romantic way."
"Have you ever seen the Doctor Who episode about him?"
"This is what actually prompted this question for me."
"Most of the world has read your diary."
"Wait...All of my diary?"
"Her Father censored some of it because she talks about her body and other things, I can't really blame him for that. Modern prints are uncensored."
"She’d have been thrilled, but I don’t think surprised is the right word. She dreamed of being a published author. She knew that she was creating something valuable and important with her diary, and she wanted it to be published."
"I wonder what she'd think of her diary being turned into a stage play including a Broadway run and thousands of young girls doing their best to recreate all the different facets both good and bad of how she acted during her time in the Annex."
Herman The Whalebart simpson episode 3 GIFGiphy
"He had a few early successes with seafaring books, but Moby-Dick was a total flop that got bad reviews, and he spent the final decades of his life working in the customs department."
"He would be shocked to hear he wrote the Great American Novel."
"My boyfriend is from New Bedford, MA. Apparently the local high schools there had big murals depicting scenes from Moby Dick." "
*That* would have amazed Melville."
"Dude, that's the best part. You never know what's coming next. It's like:"
"45 pages of unintentionally hilarious interactions between Ishmael and Queequeg."
"30 pages of incredible, brooding drama written in stage play format for some reason."
"100 page essay about some minor technical details about whaling and how some village built their chieftain's hall out of a whale's ribcage."
"Another 20 pages of Ahab chewing the scenery and embodying mankind's self-destructive obsessions"
"Then Queequeg speaking his last words but then deciding he doesn't want to die yet and miraculously springing back to life."
"Like the ocean itself, you have to accept that Moby Dick moves at its own pace lol"
We, In Fact, Did Not Forget
"Hegelochus, an actor who mispronounced a word in a play in the year 408 BC and was mocked so thoroughly for it, his mistake has made it into the collective ledger of things historians know about and generally agree upon having happened… and we're still aware of it over 2,400 years later."
"Imagine making a meme today with a word misspelled, and others found that misspelling so egregiously mockable that you are still known for it in the year 4422."
" 'Oh come on get over it. No one will remember about that by tomorrow' -Hehelochus’ mom probably"
"He must have went to sleep running the moment in his head over and over again, but he probably tried to comfort himself by thinking, 'well, at least it's not like some space-age hyper-futuristic society is going to be discussing this thousands of years from now on their magic boxes powered by lightning in some language that doesn't even exist yet'."
"This is the worst nightmare of everyone that has been told to stop worrying because no one will pay as much attention to what you're doing as you."
"Counter point: Hegelochus."
"Kafka. Rarely published in his lifetime, and when he did it was in obscure magazines which nobody read."
"Explicitly asked that his works be destroyed after his death. It's only because his executor disregarded his wishes and published his unfinished works (which comprise the majority of his oeuvre) that he is famous today."
"Kafka is a good example of how much can anxiety ruin a person's life"
"Kafka wrote his stories to be shared with a group of friends like story-telling at a campfire"
"Blind Willie Johnson."
"He passed away blind, poor and sick, lying in the ruins of his house after it was burnt down."
"And his song 'Dark was the Night, Cold was the Ground' left our solar system not too long ago aboard the Voyager to be listened to by life among the stars."
"I really like to think one day-thousands and thousands of years in the future, an alien race will find that golden disk and hear his voice."
"I think the fact he had such a poor life but could one day live eternally amongst the stars is so beautiful."
"Found out about him through a VSauce video."
"I listened to a couple songs and really liked them, he had a great voice and had a great talent for playing guitar despite being blind. Such a humbling and inspiring story he had"
"I remember learning about this in a Vsauce video and crying profusely afterwards, but not only from sadness, also from hope, and some other emotions I can’t possibly describe."
"The fact that he died at the lowest of lows, blind, sick, poor, and alone, yet he very well could be the man that teaches the stars about the very essence of humanity… there’s just something so intrinsically beautiful about that."
"Humanity, flawed as it is, is as intrinsically kind and beautiful as it is evil. The world forgets that sometimes."
Other Madonnamona lisa oh no you didnt GIFGiphy
"Lisa Gherardini, the Mona Lisa model."
"She was just some unremarkable random wife. Fast forward a few hundred years and she ended up as one of the most recognizable faces in history."
"HER NAMES NOT EVEN MONA LISA?!"
" 'Monna' was a shortening of the Italian word 'madonna', which was the equivalent of the English 'Madam'."
Honor Well Pass Death
"This is the dead body they used in Operation Mincemeat."
"The man basically consumed rat poison to commit suicide."
"His corpse was then used for a British secret operation to carry fake documents for the Nazis to find in order to make them think they were invading Greece and not Sicily."
"This man died in a alleyway and went on the become a dedicated Major in the British military buried with full military rites - under his fake name, but still him in physical form."
"He was originally buried under his covert identity (in Spain where his body washed ashore after being deposited in the sea nearby by a Royal Navy submarine), Major William Martin of the Royal Marines."
"In 2009 or thereabouts his real name (Glyndwr Michael) was added to his gravestone."
"I thought he died of tuberculosis so it’d be more convincing he was a British serviceman who drowned? Or maybe that was the guy used to make the Nazis think the Allies were invading Calais instead of Normandy."
"It was rat poison but it's not clear if it was a suicide."
"The poison was in the form of a paste that would be smeared on pieces of bread; rodents eat the bread, rodents die. Or in this case; poor Welshman eats the bread, poor Welshman dies."
"It's not clear whether he knew the paste was poison, or whether he was just hungry and thought he genuinely found some bread lying around."
"Where the confusion comes in is that the guy in charge of Mincemeat claimed the body was that of a young man who died of pneumonia, and that the parents had given permission for his body to be used as it was."
A Real Hero
"A literal hero of humanity who in some ways is still alive."
"Her family deserved so much better though."
"Can I get a short version? I don't think I've heard of her before"
"Her contribution to science is and continues to be gigantic"
Laws Of Inheritance
"Gregor Mendel, the monk and scientist who experimented with pea plant traits to describe what we today literally call Mendelian inheritance."
"The significance of Mendel's findings, which he published in 1866, went almost completely unrecognized during his life and after his death. His work was only rediscovered in the early 1900s when modern ideas about inheritance and selection started taking hold."
"I can differ there. When he first stated his theory, he was sure it was correct (as it was) but was rejected. I can imagine him not being surprised at the fact that his work was re recognised as right later down the line"
"It's entirely possible you're correct and Mendel suspected that someday he'd be proved right. At the same time, however, he spent decades after his discovery trying and failing to elicit interest from the academic public or individual biologists, and retired from science to become a monastery administrator, which looks a lot like 'giving up'."
Okay, so we learned some interesting history today. How about you?
Don't you love a good myth?
Let's put some of NSFW ones to the test.
RedditorWizzlyG33wanted to hear about what lies need to be exposed when it comes to sex, death and all things over the top in life. They asked:
"If MythBusters had a NSFW episode, what would you want to see on it?"
Oh JamieSeason 1 Love GIF by OutlanderGiphy
"A five second segment where Jamie points at a diagram and says, in complete deadpan, 'This is where the clitoris is.'"
"If they did such an episode, I could see this being in it for sure."
"I want them to purchase every pill they see on the internet that would make their penis bigger and see what happens."
"I think we can call that one BUSTED already. In what version of any world can you imagine there is a simple pill to make your junk more impressive and every dude you know doesn't already have a case of 10000 pills stashed under the bed?"
"Can you actually get an STD from a toilet seat?"
"This is an interesting thing actually. It was a myth deliberately perpetuated to make people less ashamed of asking for STD tests."
"Fun fact: There are multiple STDs that can be dormant (like inactive) for years. Like several years."
"You’d never know you had gotten it. Then something triggers it, maybe an infection or something, and then you start showing symptoms/Can now test positive. So technically a partner from years before could have given it to you and you either think your SO is cheating or haven’t been with anybody in a long time. Either way it’s scary when you think about it."
"Does a person really stay conscious for a few moments after beheading?"
"There was a French physician who tested this in the early 1900s. After a criminal was beheaded he picked up the head and shouted the criminal's name. The guy opened his eyes and made eye contact with the physician over a period of 30 seconds whenever his name was called. Edit: I provided the source in other comments but here it is on the original comment."
Theorieslooking down homer simpson GIFGiphy
"Size correlates to what? Feet? Nose? So many theories."
"I have size 12 feet and a massive nose and huge hands and the little guy is small."
Oh the lies and the rumors and the shade.
More is MoreSeth Meyers Dancing GIF by Late Night with Seth MeyersGiphy
"They did prove that women with larger breasts will get more tips. Which isn’t really not safe for work, because Kari literally was working at a coffee shop."
"If breast enlargements will help your job would you be able to write them off on your taxes?"
"How deep underwater are you still able to orgasm?"
"Pretty sure there's no lower limit. When you're underwater, your body is under pressure, but for the most part doesn't actually get compressed. Only your air spaces (lungs, sinuses, inner ears) are really subject to compression from ambient water pressure. There can be painful exceptions like air pockets inside a tooth filling, which I do not recommend experiencing."
"Most of your body is water or various solids, which push back on the ambient water pressure. You prostate shouldn't be blocked by water pressure any more than your bladder is. Source: am old scuba diver, I've done all kinds of things a hundred feet underwater. At that depth the ambient pressure is 4 bar, which in olden-tymes units is nearly 60 pounds per square inch. Also: fish do it underwater, doesn't seem to stop them."
"Does pineapple make your semen taste better?"
"Post orgasm clarity: How much better can you solve puzzles or remember something?"
"Well, recently I did a lot of reaction time tests on humanbenchmark.com and while normally I get average of around 140-145, after a good O I consistently got around 130-135, very often getting single clicks close to 120 which almost never happens in other cases. And it's weird because I feel more tired but apparently my reaction time improves for some reason."
Safety FirstSafety Helmet GIF by Just SecondsGiphy
"A take on the top ten OSHA violations list to see if they are as dangerous as they say."
"Safety regulations are written in blood."
Well that is a ton of great suggestions. Let's work on it.
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Many people value solitude, and having time to themselves.
For others though, loneliness can be a crippling feeling.
Having no one to talk to or spend time with can get wearying after an extended amount of time.
Something many people know more than ever after the global pandemic hit in spring of 2020.
But while some people simply succumb to being lonely, others will find ways to help them cope with, if not completely forget, being all alone.
Redditor No_Blackberry_6286 was curious to hear the different ways people have of coping with their loneliness, leading them to ask:
"Reddit, how do you cope with loneliness?"
Make the most with what makes you happy
"I've learned to enjoy my own company and focus on my hobbies."
"Funny enough, this gives me stuff to talk about when I am around people."
Voices in the background
"Listening to people talk on YouTube so I feel less alone in my house."
Millions of friends, just one click away.
"Chat with random people on Reddit."internet computer GIFGiphy
Still figuring it out
"I don't I'm f*cking miserable."- Savathunh
"I don't :("- __MashedPotatoes__·
Get my body movin'
"It makes me feel better about myself and I have something to do alone."- DerpBread69Gym Working Out GIF by Chance The RapperGiphy
Who says I need to?
"I love solitude."- Befuddled_GenXer
"I become one with loneliness."- thenewyorkofficesolitude GIFGiphy
Hit the snooze button
"Sleep 12+ hours a day."- RockandRoll682
Instant tension and relief
"Lots of arguing online about sh*t I don't care about at all, just to have some form of social interaction, and get off at least 3 times a day."-
There are very few worse feelings than that of being alone.
But it's also quite remarkable how much doing something that makes you happy, be it ever so simple, can elevate your feelings.
In this day and age of advancement, it's crazy how so many things leave our heads scratching.
Like how in 2022 is such and such still around?
Everyone in New York wondered that for the past decade until they took the final payphone.
I always wonder about companies that still make you send a fax.
Y'all have heard of email right?
RedditorPineapple_WarpDrivewanted to compare notes on why we think certain things and parts of life are not yet obsolete this late in the game of time. They asked:
"It’s 2022, what shouldn’t exist now?"
I feel like the list will be longer than we expect. We are still behind in certain ways.
lazy...Bubble Gum Cartoon GIFGiphy
"People sticking gum on random surfaces instead of at least throwing it towards the trash can a few feet away."
How is this allowed?
"'Convenience' fees to pay bills online."
"Yeah or any 'additional fee' that’s required to buy the product or service. Advertise $100 but then at check out they add in service fee $25, convenience fee $10."
"Always at the last second too, usually right before you enter your credit card info. Wtf? How is this allowed? Just advertise $135 if that’s the price the customer is paying. Should not be allowed to bait a low price and switch with a higher one once the customer is already invested."
Can you hear me now?
"Not being able to get cell service is spots in my own home."
"A friend worked in Africa building homes for the people. He said there were bush men with spears and loin cloths with a cell phone clipped on the side. Middle of nowhere yet reception everywhere."
"Most of Africa skipped land lines altogether and went straight to mobile. In the west, cell phones and mobile internet are a luxury, in less developed regions it's often the only way to communicate."
"Companies that create problems and sell solutions instead of solving existing problems."
"This was the inevitable outcome of an economic system in which only those doing labor are allowed to have food and shelter, yet technology is constantly reducing the amount of labor that is actually necessary."
"We only get money for food if we are seen to be working on problems. Now we're having a shortage of actual problems so we must make artificial ones to keep surviving. If only we had UBI, all of these pointless industries would disappear overnight as no one wants to keep working these jobs they know are pointless."
Hang UpCall Me Hello GIF by IDKGiphy
"I literally had spammers somehow dupe the phone number of my local council, it's scary just how close they can get."
I HATE these SPAM calls. All hours of the day and night. I hate you!
Speed UpInternet Mouse GIF by kotutohumGiphy
"We figured it out. Just that the companies are greedy and keep the money for themselves instead of upgrading infrastructure."
"I know! Whatever happened with the Paperwork Reduction Act?"
"in the U.S. you can reduce your junk mail a lot by going to.DMAChoice.org and OptOutPrescreen.com and filling out the forms for your address. I have reduced my junk mail by about 90% : FTC source"
"Having to spend 3 hours in traffic everyday."
"Because North American cities have over restrictive zoning laws that segregate cities based on type of usage and they build to a very low density and with car-centric development that makes it so everyone has to use a car to get anywhere."
"It's not so easy to just 'find a job closer to home' for example I'll search on Indeed and the closest job in my line of work is like 2hrs away."
"So everything but earth Is round right? (according to flat Earthers) So as some members say it's like a frisbee in space. What if, bear with me... the reason the world will end is because a giant dog will catch us and kill everyone on earth by shaking the frisbee too much and cause floods and crap. Because if so, that's how I wanna die, letting a pupper have some fun with a fisbee."
Grossunderstand john boehner GIFGiphy
"Child beauty pageants."
"If I see a mother make her child do one of those, I WILL judge her."
Can we work on eradicating these things? It's all well past expired.
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