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Hate-following and hate-watching: it's enough

Let's occupy our time with more constructive activities

Hate-following and hate-watching: it's enough Let's occupy our time with more constructive activities

The world of social media has its own set of rules for relationships. These include nuances that don't exist in real life. Would you ever consider including someone you don't like in your circle of friends, just to know what they're up to and all the details of their private life? Or, in a similar way, would you keep someone you used to like close only to talk about them behind their back with other people? Probably not (rightly so). However, on social media, this behavior is coded and even has a name: we're talking about hate-following.

What does hate-following mean? 

It's something that happens to everyone. You hear about a scandalous story posted by someone (probably an influencer) and you go check it out, getting caught in a spiral of blame and curiosity. Eventually, captivated by the events, you hit the follow button, and now you don't miss any content, in fact, you talk about it with friends whenever you can. Or, in a more subtle way, you started following someone because you liked them, but then you found out, over weeks, months, or even years, that their character no longer aligns with your life, your ideals, your interests. Yet you kept watching, somehow entertained, like staring at a squashed fly on a windshield, unable to look away. All of this is hate-following or hate-watching.

A seemingly harmless trend

The urge may be understandable. Humans enjoy loving and appreciating just as much as they enjoy hating, criticizing, freely commenting on people whom, in the grand scheme of things, they don't even know. What's the harm? It's a pastime like any other, light and potentially without risks or repercussions. It's like continuing to watch reality TV shows even after we've unraveled all the dynamics and we're annoyed by the exaggerated characters, just to vent our desire to criticize someone who will never feel the effects, to feel better about ourselves, to define ourselves in contrast to them. It's liberating, almost, especially because there's a healthy distance between the hater and the hated. At the end of the day, no one gets hurt. Or at least, that's how it might seem.

@samisagesays No one’s as great as the first time you discover them #influencer #socialmedia #influencersinthewild #instagram original sound

Are we helping the ugly advance?

There are two limits to this behavior. The first one is more technical and objective. We don't realize how many toxic and outspoken celebrities rely on hate-watching, often deliberately creating hateful and controversial personas to attract followers, views, and therefore economic returns, brand collaborations, job opportunities, and so on. Have TV personalities like Morgan or Vittorio Sgarbi not taught us anything? Hate-watching sells, provocation does too. Whether the views come from supporters or curious and idle hate-watchers, no one cares: what matters are the numbers. The higher they are, the more opportunities the person in question will have to be heard, to expand, to advance in their career, to be called on other profiles or on the small screen. There's a real possibility that, in our seemingly harmless hobby, we're helping something bad or something we'd never associate with, advance in the world.

@itseilisepatton lets catch up

Hate-watching affects mood

The second limit is more subjective but no less important. Assuming that gossip is inevitable and also has a certain useful historical-social function, have we ever thought about how much time we take away from our lives, all busy with this somewhat perverse activity? Thinking negatively, in the long run, affects our mood and our view of life. Wouldn't it be better, then, to carve out a happy space that enriches and entertains us, or at least doesn't actively provoke irritation and displeasure? And we're certainly not talking about echo chambers. Interacting only with people who agree with us 100% can't be a good thing. There should be, or there should be a limit to what we inflict on ourselves, a perfect balance of debate and positivity. And if in life, at work, at the bar, and in the office it's impossible to make this kind of selection, then why not prune some dead branches on social media?

@therapyjeff Stop hate following people! #mentalhealth #therapy #therapytok #mentalhealthmatters #relationshiptips #socialmedia #anxiety #hatefollower #hatewatch original sound - TherapyJeff

Freeing ourselves from hatred, little by little

Ultimately, hate-watching and similar activities make us passive and submissive to the mechanisms of social media. We think we're consuming innocent content and maybe we even enjoy getting a little worked up, but the truth is that we not only passively consume these contents, but we also actively help them, unwittingly, we let them enter our lives and minds. Slowly, day by day, getting used to not seeing certain faces, taking away from them any kind of audience and their power and influence on our mood, could be a good way to do good for ourselves and for the social sphere as a whole.