This was not like my friend who, while driving, failed to properly look both directions at a stop sign, pulled out, got hit by a huge truck and killed his friend who was a passenger. Or my other friend who killed his wife in a hiking accident by causing a rockslide. I once saw an interview with a girl who was jumping from rock to rock on the top of a cliff. Due to an optical illusion, she thought that the mountains on the horizon were rocks that were just a meter in front of her. and jumped off a cliff. She's now paralyzed. Those things seem closer to being labeled "huge mistakes". Maybe not even those? Economists have argued (and empirics support) that people have a set baseline of happiness -- that despite major positive and negative changes in their lives, they will eventually (6 mos?) coast back down or up to their previous level of happiness. I know my friends who have killed people don't feel like their lives have been ruined (although the families of the deceased might think differently). And the girl from the interview said she was also very happy. Things just don't seem to matter as much as people fear they will, particularly since with few exceptions all of us will be forgotten in as little as a hundred years (Along these same lines, Downton Abbey juxtaposes the perceived domestic "tragedies" of a missing footman with true tragedies like war to great effect).
I always tell my anxiety prone friend to not think about the future in terms of the next few decades. Otherwise she tends to over-estimate how terrible it will be to live without her ex that she just broke up with because he takes her current sadness levels and multiplies it out 365 days a year, for however many decades. And when you think that way, even the smallest setback can seem terribly overwhelming. And it's interesting. In the aftermath of the book release, I've fallen way behind in answering emails from this site (maybe 5-6 months delay?). Often people who write to me very upset about something. I write them back 5 months later and get no answer. There are a lot of ways to read this, but mostly I think that it's because the issue is no longer relevant. And maybe it's no longer relevant because the horrible thing they were fearing happened and there's nothing that can be done to fix it, but I tend to think that it's because the problems that so bothered the person turned out to not be as serious/destructive/long-lasting as they thought it was or would be. Most of the people who break up with sociopaths don't really care much about them after some time. They move on. (There are some notable exceptions). Most people who are hurt by sociopaths move on. Stuff sorts itself out and more pressing matters take one's attention from the past, which I don't think is a bad thing. Sometimes it really can be helpful to imagine your future in terms of where will you be a few decades from now. Things that seem like mistakes or tragedies now may be so insignificant as to be forgotten by then.
And that's what I thought about as I heard the announcers lament such a terrible mistake in curling, a mistake that I wasn't even able to recognize, much less understand. I guess that's another thing that rubs me the wrong way about the social shaming -- I think that a large part of the urge to social shame or otherwise morally judge people as "guilty" and deserving of punishment is a secret fear of the but-for-the-grace-of-God-go-I type.
People that seem most inclined to make moral condemnations also seem most self-assured that everyone has free will and a large amount of control over their lives. These moral condemners tend to think that people get what they deserve (for good or ill) because it supports the idea that they have earned the good things in their life solely through their own ingenuity and hard work. And if they have earned the goods things in life, that means they have succeeded in a way, particularly if you measure success in terms of home size, discretionary income, and how well one's children do in school. (Interestingly, to most of these people it's no longer considered a moral "failure"to have one's marriage fail, although to be laid off from one's job often still is.) And all of those things are important because not everyone has them, so that makes you better.
See, that's the tricky thing -- if you have a long term perspective about the negative things, that means you also will have a long term perspective about the positive things. If you feel like a mistake in the Olympics won't make or break your life, maybe you also won't believe that a score on a standardized test should be able to make or break your life, which might take away some of your self-justification for feeling better than other people. So they are faced with a conundrum: they can admit to themselves that most mistakes (theirs or others) are not really important when seen in perspective, but that would mean also acknowledging that most of their successes (theirs or others) are not important either. I feel like for some of these people who love to harp on the mistakes of others, this moralistic urge comes from a fear that if they acknowledge that a gross mistake today will not seem like anything in a decade, they will also have to give up their joy at what seems a great success today. And that belief just leads to nihilism, because what is the point if you can't even feel that you're much (any?) better at life than your average homeless person.
If there were no Olympics, what would be the point of skiing down mountains fast or directing a stone true to its target? How would we know who is better and who is not?
(Cue the defensive comments and/or personal attacks from people whose world views do not permit such perspectives?)