Hate-following is not healthy or “therapeutic”

I have seen several bullshit psychology articles floating around lately defending the practice of hate-following. For the uninitiated, hate-following means compulsively following someone on social media that you do not like. As you might imagine, “do not like” is a broad category – it might be because you are jealous of their lifestyle or achievements; you did not get along in real life in the past; you do not share their principles or resent the sort of things they stand for. It’s cyber-stalking with access.

I assume the myriad articles on this topic lately stems from the fact that another election cycle is underway and members of the chattering class are subconsciously realizing that they’ve blown the last four years of their one precious life hate-following President Trump. They’ve graphed the number of typos in his tweets and they’ve fact-checked hero dog memes while other people got married and had babies. It’s not exactly the curriculum vitae of a life well-lived and they probably feel pretty bad about that. They probably realize their audience is not worth bragging about either.

How can they make themselves feel good about this pattern? Oh right, describe hate-following as therapeutic and even edifying. Mother Teresa used to shitpost about Gandhi, you know. It’s totally normal. Good people do it.

In the current issue of Women’s Health – right behind their advice on how bored straight women can “respectfully” experiment with gay dating sites – they argue that taking screenshots of someone’s social media feed and sharing snide comments about them with your friends is cathartic enterprise that might actually help you discover habits to make yourself a better person. As if the 200 comments you’ve made about Sheila’s thighs – she’s probably anorexic, you know – are going to pry the cookie dough ice cream from your hands and drive you to the gym.

I deleted my various social media accounts because it seems like this sort of thing is substantially all the content there is to consume now. Post an article, don’t even read it, shitpost. Post a screenshot of someone you are jealous of, shitpost. Social media are colonies of self-loathing people who do this all day long and people who are merely lurking but also enjoy passively participating in this sort of thing. It truly resembles an asylum now.

Mentally healthy people do not hate-follow. They don’t feel the need to stalk folks who seem to be having it all or strangers with different political opinions. They are out at the beach, reading a book under a tree in a city park, playing with their kids in their spare time. When they need to change, they change. They don’t have to victimize someone else to feel good about themselves.

I have said this many times, but our society needs to stop giving young people objectively terrible ideas about how to function and survive in the world. This is a good example. A man is not going to look at you hate-following a female co-worker on Instagram and think, “Wow, this is someone I should propose to. I want her raising my children. She’s probably going to develop excellent habits some day that I will be proud of.” Instead he’s going to realize he’s dating someone who will eventually be the subject of a restraining order or the future mother of a school shooter and run like hell. This is not evidence of good character. Most people do not want to spend their time around habitual assholes.

So much of our society could be improved if people simply stopped trying to engage folks who did not want to engage them. I’m not even talking about empathy or tolerance, which require sincerely trying to understand where someone is coming from. Just the ability to peacefully coexist in the same space and keep your mouth shut.

7 thoughts on “Hate-following is not healthy or “therapeutic”

  1. Your blog is such an oasis of logical thinking, I really appreciate your posts, they’re often what I’ve been either wondering about for awhile. And you write so well! And the information is always so very interesting… I just really love it!

    I used to have several women who hate-followed my blog years ago. They’d actually read it everyday (and probably still do, sometimes I still get a link back to where they’re discussing my latest stuff) just so that they could write nasty posts about what I was writing. They weren’t reading to actually engage in critical thought, or because they enjoyed what I was saying, they just loved to feel those emotions of anger or ridicule.

    They were also apart of this larger community of feminists (hundreds of thousands of women) who make it their hobby to hate-follow what they think of as, “weird religious people,” and write hundreds of posts about them, their blogs, their kids (!!), life, etc. So I was also written about multiple times there. They are actually pretty bad and try to wreak havoc on one’s real life, for example one time one threatened me she was going to contact my husband’s employer and tell them we supported child rape, pedophilia, etc. when NO WHERE on my blog do I ever support something like that. I really think people like that have a mental illness.

    And I don’t understand the premise of following someone – even like you mentioned, a person in real life you used to know but didn’t get along with (that’s happened to me, too), when you have nothing in common anymore and really have no business looking through their cyber-windows so to speak. I don’t do that myself. I don’t seek out people I know I didn’t get along with, just to see what they’re up to online (facebook or on their blog). To me that’d make me miserable, and I just don’t have the time in real life to devote to that sort of thing (much rather be reading something interesting or engaging with my kids and husband)!

    Anyway, just wanted to say I totally agree. How odd that now articles are coming out *encouraging* this obviously destructive behavior! We’re only going to get more crazy people because of that LOL

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I know exactly what you are talking about. I have been on the receiving end of hate-following a number of times. One woman that I did not personally know and never met in real life cyber-stalked me for seven years. No kidding. I thought about contacting the police about it. When I would block her account, she’d go through the trouble of setting up new accounts to follow me from. She was that addicted to responding to conversations I was having with people that had no relationship to her. It was totally psycho. This is someone I was not directly engaging at all. Seven years.

      Some of the worst hate-following behavior I have ever seen in my life takes place on secular homeschooling Facebook groups. A friend added me to a large one (back when I still had a FB account; I don’t now) and it was deeply, deeply disturbing how consumed they were with hate for Christians of all persuasions, not just Christian homeschoolers. They posted bitter memes about religion all the time and would do mocking screenshots of comments from religious groups pretty much every day. I can’t even imagine what their children are experiencing being around a mother all day who talks that way about people in their community. It’s so toxic, I feel so sorry for those kids.

      The whole thing about threatening to contact someone’s employer actually happened to someone I know. Someone who was seriously worked up about politics in the last election cycle would use Facebook information about where someone worked (even strangers) to call employers and tell them that x was a pedophile, all because they were exposed to that person’s commentary and did not like the fact that they were politically conservative. You can obviously sue someone for doing that to you, but I honestly think that should be worth prison time. It’s a deliberate form of violence, after all.

      Like

  2. I confess I follow somebody on Facebook that I don’t like. My new congressman apparently doesn’t send mailers to registered Republicans, so I follow his page to get an idea what he’s up to. I wouldn’t say I hate him, though. I don’t know him and don’t want to.

    No, I wouldn’t claim following him is therapeutic.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. “…the ability to peacefully coexist in the same space and keep your mouth shut.”

    Unfortunately, the opposite of this is the sine qua non of the Left, so don’t look for this to be widespread on social media (which I also avoid) anytime soon.

    Liked by 1 person

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