Earlier this summer, I attended a music festival that could easily be summed up as an utter disaster. It poured the entire time. The grass my friends and I were standing on quickly turned to mud and to get anywhere, you had to walk through deep puddles that soaked our shoes and socks. Despite all this, I tried to grin and bear it, to convince myself that I was having fun and to ignore all of the dumb things happening around me. My friends seemed to be enjoying themselves in spite of the circumstances — so why couldn't I?
"You can only get so wet" was my mantra throughout the sodden day, until about 4:30pm when I spotted a guy in an ironic "FREE ARIEL CASTRO" T-shirt. Something inside me snapped. "I'm not having a good time," I admitted. No matter how much effort I had put into pretending I was having fun, the truth was that I hadn't been having fun all day. I was standing in the middle of a crowded mud pit, soaked and freezing, at a festival that had the nerve to charge $12 for a single beer. The music sucked. The people sucked. Everything about it sucked.
And with that realization came — for the first time all day — a sense of relief. I gave into hate and overwhelmingly felt free.
You see, I am a natural born hater. The child of haters. Constantly suppressing my urge to hate on things. Hating is my comfort state, my modus operandi, and — unsurprisingly — I hate that about myself.
Last week, the Washington Post reported on a study that determined haters are more likely to hate things than non-haters. (No fucking duh — Signed, A Hater)
Sarah Kilff writes:
Do verified haters tend to hate everything else they stumble upon? Yes, according to a new study in the Journal of Personality and Social Psychology. People who tend to hate things they already know about are (surprise!) more disposed to hate things they have not yet come in contact with.
To test out this theory, a team of psychologists asked study participants how they felt about a number of mundane and unrelated subjects that included (but was not limited to) architecture, health care, crossword puzzles, taxidermy and Japan.
Obviously, the haters tended to hate all of it.
The psychologists remarked:
“If individuals differ in the general tendency to like versus dislike objects, an intriguing possibility is that attitudes toward independent objects may actually be related,” they write. “So someone’s attitude toward architecture may in fact tell us something about their attitude toward health care because both attitudes would be biased by a disposition to like or dislike stimuli.”
The (fairly obvious) results of this study fill me with a mix of dread, embarrassment and a hint of nostalgia because, like I mentioned before, I grew up in a hater household. My parents — though generous and kind people — would often fall into traps of snobbishness, particularly when it came to other peoples' tastes. They were hipsters well before hipsters were cool (how hipster of them!) and, to top it all off, we lived in a city that has long considered itself to be one of the most progressive places in the country — NAY, THE WORLD — which is to say that it hosted an entire population of haters who felt their opinions were more enlightened than anybody else's. But even if their political opinions were more advanced (as they often were) and even if my folks did have better taste in music/movies/clothes/tv than other people's folks did, it's still led to this seemingly mundane, but actually very important question: Don't you people like anything?
As I've gotten older, I've fought hard against my natural inclination to hate. Unfortunately, it's harder to like something than it is to dislike it. Liking something means being enthusiastic and being enthusiastic means being vulnerable. People can always trump you with sarcasm or cynicism or by making you feel dumb for loving something honestly. In that way, liking something is actually quite brave and hating on things is terribly cowardly.
But here's the truth. Sometimes I miss being a hater. Like I said before, hating is easy. And some things deserve to be hated on. So how do you find balance and avoid becoming one of the people from the study who hates everything from crossword puzzles to the entire country of Japan? Well, you can use common sense, for one thing. When you have a negative reaction to something, you can check in with yourself and evaluate whether or not the thing you're reacting to is actually loathsome or that you're being a dick just because.
But all that introspection? Dude, I fucking hate that.
Researchers take on crucial question: Are haters gonna hate? [Washington Post]
[h/t The Hairpin]
Illustration by Sam Woolley