Why I Stopped “Hate-Reading”

This popular pastime can have toxic effects.

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I love to read, and I truly believe it’s one of the most rewarding hobbies that anyone can take up. There’s one type of reading, however, that I deeply regret ever having done: hate-reading.

For those who have never heard of hate-reading, dictionary.com provides a succinct definition: “to read (a blog, newspaper, etc.) that one professes to dislike, often with the intention to mock or criticize.” Hate-reading is strangely popular these days, with entire forums devoted to deriding blogs and articles.

I used to waste a lot of my time with hate-reading. I didn’t think twice about how it could ever have negative repercussions. When I finally did take time to reflect, I was embarrassed to realize that I had been pouring hours into an incredibly toxic pastime.

Hate-Reading Is Mean

At its heart, hate-reading is a mean-spirited endeavor. I used to read blogs solely because I disagreed with them. In some contexts, this would be a great exercise. I could challenge my world views and learn from the perspectives of people who saw things differently than me. But that wasn’t what I was doing.

When I read these blogs, I was just looking for cheap laughs. I’d scroll through posts from people who I thought were idiots, rolling my eyes and feeling a false sense of superiority.

When I think back on myself doing this, I’m completely ashamed. It was incredibly mean of me to do. The truth is, many of the posts that I would laugh at probably could have taught me a thing or two if I hadn’t taken such an arrogant approach to reading them.

Plenty of blog posts really are stupid, but even these would have been better left alone. Laughing at someone simply because I disagree with them is, quite simply, mean.

I want to live my life as a kind person. I’d like to help build up the people I interact with, not to tear them down. In order to live this positive life, I had to stop hate-reading.

Developing a Negative Mindset

These mean-spirited feelings weren’t the only reason I left hate-reading behind. They were just one piece of an entire negative mindset that hate-reading engendered.

By constantly exposing myself to writing that I hated, I was only reinforcing a negative view of the world. It made me start to feel like most people were dumb, mean, or rude. I was committing a classic error in logical reasoning: I was making generalizations from a sample that was carefully selected not to represent the general public.

When I stopped hate-reading, and started focusing on reading the things that I love, I started to feel much better about the world in general. It helped me to remember that the world has plenty of kind, intelligent people in it.

Promoting Controversial Writing

There’s one last reason that I left hate-reading behind, and it’s a bit more pragmatic than the first two. One of the troubles with hate-reading is that it promotes controversial writing.

Unfortunately, many writers are more concerned with how many views their articles get than whether they are actually writing something true and useful. Some writers have realized that controversial articles will bring in hate-readers, so they purposefully write the most controversial things they can think of.

By engaging in hate-reading, I was encouraging this practice. Each time I clicked an article that I hated, I was simply encouraging the writer to create even more of the same content.

Room For Disagreement

I try to avoid hate-reading, but that doesn’t mean only reading writers with whom I agree. There’s also room for reading things that I disagree with in a way that’s not hate-reading.

These days, if I’m reading an article that I deeply disagree with, I resist the urge to laugh or roll my eyes. Instead, I ask myself what I can learn from it. Can it inform or change my own views? If not, can it help me to better understand those who disagree with me? This type of constructive reading takes more work than just mocking someone, but it is far more satisfying.

Ultimately, life is too short to waste my time hate-reading. I’m much happier to devote my reading time to work that genuinely interests and entertains me.

Written by

I’m a lawyer and teacher from North Carolina. I write about sobriety, mental health, running, and more.

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