The secret Internet habit that leaves a bad taste in your mouth


It’s the social networking activity you’ve probably been doing without even realising.

If you have an internet connection, you’ve most likely tried it. Especially if you’ve had a shitty day and you’ve already eaten all the chocolate.

Website Jezebel has identified hate-reading as an activity that’s exactly what it sounds like:

Have you ever found yourself visiting a website, Twitter feed, or Facebook page for the express purpose of ridiculing — or indulging your disdain for —the author and/or content? Then you’re hate-reading. And unless you’re a saint with limited Internet access, you’re probably guilty of doing it at some point.

Almost everyone I know hate-reads from time to time, but ever since I discovered LiveJournal in middle school, I’ve been a ringleader. Long after everyone else is done giggling about my cousin’s ex-girlfriend’s tumultuous Facebook wall-to-wall history with her fiancé, I’m still scrolling down the page and most likely Googling her name in hopes of finding her Tumblr.

I tried to justify it all as a socio-anthropological pursuit: I’m a writer! It’s research! People’s lives are endlessly fascinating! But the truth is that I’ve never been artistically inspired by a hate-reading session. I can’t even pass hate-reading off as a catty social activity, because, while it’s certainly bitchy, I usually hate-read alone, late at night when I’m procrastinating, drunk, bored, or all three.

I’ll put my hand up. I’ve done it. Sometimes on an intellectually better-than-thou level – “Wow. I can’t believe he still tYpEs LyK dIs” – and sometimes on a general girl-bitchy “She wore THAT to her party?” kind of way. There are no benefits to it. It makes me feel good for an instant and then I feel hate-bloated. It’s not a nice feeling.


So why do I do it? I think Jezebel may have found the answer…

So why am I — and likely you — this way? While trying to get to the root of my love for hate-reading, I remembered an article I read on this site about “perfect bloggers” — all those Zooey Deschanel lookalikes with intimidatingly adorable hair/bicycles/macaron-making skills. “I fell down the picturesque-vintage-design-craft rabbit hole a few days ago,” Sadie wrote, “and emerged three hours later, bleary-eyed and full of self-loathing.”

A solid hate-reading session can definitely suck me into a mindless, time-wasting hole, but hate-reading never makes me feel inferior. Instead, I’ve realized, it makes me feel superior. The subtext behind my derision —  “How could this person think this post is meaningful/funny/creative?” — is that I, in contrast, am meaningful, funny, and creative.  If I get to decide what’s lame, I also get to decide what’s cool, because I am cool.

Superiority. It all makes sense now. That’s why my friend, who went through a shocking break-up, now sometimes stalks her ex’s new flame so that she can reassure herself that she’s definitely better looking. She only does it on the harder days when she’s feeling particularly down – but it still happens.

So I’m calling it. Next time you go to hate-read, stop yourself. Tell yourself that it’s a waste of time and energy that could be better spent on something more positive. Go for a run, get yourself out of your fog. Then come back and read Mamamia. It’s impossible to hate us. (Kidding!) (Not really.)

Do you hate-read? What? Who? And why?


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