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If you don’t like it, don’t watch it. Simple

I cannot stand that popular trend of starting every speech by citing a definition of a word from the dictionary. Everyone does it and they need to stop because it is lazy and clichéd.

With that in mind, allow me to play the hypocrite. Meriam-Webster defines ‘Hate Watching’ as watching a show to criticize or laugh at it. Whenever I open Facebook of late, I see thousands of comments attacking the latest episode of The Acolyte.

And those complaints originate from individuals who told us they hated the show after the first episode aired. Their weekly rants prove that they have continued to watch the show even though they can’t stand it.

The Rings of Power attracted a similar response. The show’s biggest critics stuck with it throughout its run and they made their ire known by flooding every Rings of Power review with their vitriol. Why do people hate-watch shows? Why make yourself miserable by watching content that makes you mad?

Believe it or not, there is an explanation for this bizarre behaviour. Researchers have found that love and hate are not nearly as dissimilar as most people think. In fact, they are closely related. Both emotions are capable of triggering extreme behavior. How many murders have occurred in 2024 alone because of romantic love?

Now apply that sentiment to entertainment. Remember the last time you watched a show you loved? You could not stop gushing about it. The overwhelmingly positive emotions you felt towards the show manifested as exaggerated praise.

The people who hated that show are no different from you. Their negative emotions were just as intense, and they experienced the same gladness you felt when they expressed their anger and disappointment.

The notion of feeling good because of a negative emotion sounds bizarre, possibly even wrong. However, a 2017 BBC article highlighted a cross-cultural study which found that ‘feeling bad can be good.’

Basically, experiencing the emotions you want to feel makes you feel good, even if those emotions are negative. For instance, you know that child abuse is bad. Therefore, you will pat yourself on the back whenever you manifest emotions of anger after observing instances of child abuse.

The concept is somewhat complicated and you can read further to improve your understanding. But the point stands. There is a joy to be derived from actively hating a thing. Why else would so many people expose themselves to content that clearly rubs them the wrong way?

What happens when you watch an episode you despise? You quickly jump on social media to rant. You do so because yours is just one voice among many raising the same complaints. You will continue tolerating the content you hate week after week because you are now part of a collective of like-minded individuals and you want to enjoy that sense of community.

Ultimately, you are not wrong for hate-watching, especially if your opinions are genuine and not some underhanded tactic to garner attention.

Hate-watching only becomes problematic when it triggers toxic and potentially criminal actions, such as stalking the individuals behind the content you hate, showering them with abuse, sending death threats, etc.

This is where the mob mentality becomes a threat. Some people cross the line because their community stokes them into a frenzy. Therefore, you should proceed carefully. Don’t allow your hate-watching habits to make you a menace to the online community.


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