For anyone with the patience and will, the phenomenon that is hate-read/watch/listening on the Internet is rich indeed for the sociological pickings.
Once you accept with a kind of anxious sadness that you will never be able to read, listen to or watch all the culture there is in the world, no matter how diligently you try, you’re left with the choices about what you do want to spend your time consuming. The tiny accruing of what you’ll remember from this — from a whole life dedicated to it — will barely make a dent in all there is to choose from.
So then what is it that appeals about the righteous indignation in tuning in to watch something only to jump on Twitter and live-tweet a ferocious hatred for it? What spurs the people who do that to come back continually to be taunted by what they find so offensive? Why would someone continually read the work of a writer they dislike, only to tell everyone who’ll listen to them how much they hate said writer <and here’s a link to their piece>? Does it just come down to, fundamentally, our hard-wired need to be seen and heard? Everyone just wants to prove that they exist? Piggy-backing off your own rage is a convenient path to doing so?
Still, are there not things you want to spend this severely limited amount of living time we have paying your attention to? Is there some kind of masochistic pleasure in being enraged?
From the Latin, turbare, “to stir up”.
At some point in the recent past, engagement — any kind of engagement — became content’s master. We’ve been living in an outrage economy for some time, but it feels often like its approaching a kind of (hopefully) inevitable nadir. It doesn’t matter how base the level of engagement is, in fact the more inchoate rage the better. So many more pageviews clicked in anger!
There are entire television shows dedicated to this, to deliberately, yes, trolling their audiences. These things rate their socks off; they trend on social networks; thousands of ill-thought out responses are fired off per second in an effort to be featured, for a moment, on television. Week after week, the same viewers tune in just to spout off about how awful it all is. All this hate-watching, it does wonders for the ratings until quietly people come to their senses, stop watching, and the thing is done away with off screen, but not before reams of column inches are given over to how terrible it is <and here’s the time it will be on air>.
Trolling for pageviews is an even finer art: deliberately, wantonly inflammatory op eds grace our devices with their gaping white space comment sections just sitting there, beckoning, waiting to receive anonymous bile the moment a reader’s hackles are raised. And because nothing seems to please us more than our own sense of superiority, continually these pages are read and so continually those stories are written. But! Dialogue! All that matters is that this two-way communication is kept open at all times because for some reason it is your right to say whatever comes into your mind despite how glaring your lack of qualification to speak about it. I haven’t read this story, but… I don’t know who this person is, but… I don’t know what the position of such is, but…
Cool story, yo. Just stay engaged. Even if it’s the equivalent of someone coming over to your house for dinner and climbing up on the table to take a steaming, huge shit? People will eat that. And for as long as they do, that is all we are going to get served.