Sara Pauff: Don’t be a hate-reader

February 6, 2012 

I discovered a new term last week: Hate-reading.

No, it’s not a word you apply to people who’d rather have a root canal than open a book. “Hate-reading,” according to a post on Jezebel.com, is when you read something simply to mock it. This usually applies to blogs, celebrity news, Facebook updates, Twitter feeds -- anything online that you can read in less than five minutes. You might even follow a person on Twitter or Facebook just so you can make sarcastic quips about their updates.

You can also hate-watch. Most reality TV shows are based around this idea. I’m fairly certain that no one who watches “The Jersey Shore” aspires to be Snooki. They just like to watch her cartoon-like antics and laugh.

The point of all this hate-watching or hate-reading is make yourself feel superior. Sounds cruel, doesn’t it? Why would you do this?

I don’t watch reality TV and I don’t go searching for people and things to poke fun at. I don’t write nasty comments online and I like to think that I don’t “hate-read.”

But if something pops up in my Facebook news feed? That’s a different story.

There is nothing more validating than scrolling through the Facebook profiles of people you went to high school with and comparing their lives to yours. Sure, a recent study by researchers at Stanford University found that Facebook users tend to feel unhappy and inadequate after looking through all their friends’ sunny vacation photos and happy status updates. But that only makes it all the more vindicating when you find something to make fun of.

I know I’m “hate-reading,” because my inner monologue goes something like this: Sure, that person may have an awesome job, but they obviously haven’t mastered the art of a witty status update. Wow, those engagement photos look...awkward. That relationship won’t last long. Geez, that person still can’t spell -- have they gained weight? Awww, that baby would be cute, if its parents hadn’t put one of those ridiculous flowery headbands on its tiny bald head.

All of this “hate-reading,” isn’t very productive. (You could also argue that Facebook itself isn’t productive, but that’s a different column). It feels a little bit like high school gossip, when you’re just talking to talk. You don’t really have anything to say. If you write it all down, like I just did, you can start to sound like nasty, cynical person.

You probably can’t stop “hate-reading” completely, because it’s human nature to gawk at others. But I think you can stop yourself from going too far and eventually unleashing your inner monologue onto the world. Your “hate-reading” and “hate-watching” doesn’t have to turn into “hate-commenting.”

Turn off your Caps Lock key. Before you type, think: Do you really have anything to say?

Contact Sara Pauff at 706-320-4469 or spauff@ledger-enquirer.com. For more commentary, read her 20-something blog at www.ledger-enquirer.com/sara.

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