Monday, January 30, 2012

Hate-reading

Guilty as charged:

[I]f a subject has absolutely no idea how they're coming off to readers, then it's all the more outrageous and, for me, all the more enjoyable. Some of my tried-and-true hate-reading regulars include an ex-roommate who refers to her significant other as "The Boyf" and brags about how she only eats at Michelin-starred restaurants; a former co-worker who extols the values of juice cleanses and composes lists with titles like, "The Top 10 Ways to Stay Present and Centered;" the friend-of-a-friend whose wedding site features a countdown ticker and engagement ring video montage; and the acquaintance who has a "fashion blog" even though she only ever posts black-and-white photos of herself in American Apparel leotards. I'm endlessly fascinated by how obnoxious these people are, and equally entertained by their ignorance of that fact.

I do this a lot. And when I say "a lot," I mean A LOT. But hey, at least now I have a name for it!

13 comments:

squadratomagico said...

Oh god... I have one of these, too. I always vaguely considered it my "schadenfreude blog."

On the other hand, perhaps I am hate-read by others as well. One cannot be all things to all people, and I don't doubt that, when I was blogging more regularly, I likely had haters who read me regularly.

Flavia said...

Squadrato:

Oh yes. It cuts both ways!

I think the essay is especially smart about how this phenomenon is based in at least a desire to feel superior; I think there is, for me (and I will not reveal the full range of things I hate-read, which are not limited to blogs or Fb pages), often an anxiety about whether my own self-presentations, online or in life, are THAT AWFUL or THAT CLUELESS.

Usually, I can reassure myself that they aren't. But who knows how other people perceive them?

Anastasia said...

Mine is a high school friend, now a stay at home mother, who posts about her coupon deals and weekly menu, which reads like a series of school lunches. Sloppy Joes, green salad, fruit cup, milk. It's all about feeling superior. I work and yet I would never feed my family soup out of a can for dinner.

Dr. Virago said...

I'm totally worried that I've devolved into the kind of blogger/FB-er whom people hate-read, especially since I'm kind of obsessively posting about the new house and plans for the kitchen. (Or rather, now I have a name for what I'm worried about people are doing with my blog and FB posts.) I mean, god, could I be more cluelessly 1% (well, more like 11%)? I'm like the freakin' Downton Abbey of academic bloggers/FB denizens. (Well, one of my friends *does* call the new house "Rust Belt Pemberley.")

Blech, I think I self-hate-read my own blog. Note to self: post about teaching next.

But you know whose Twitter feeds I hate-read? The former owners of our house. Yeah, I googled them and discovered their feeds. The wife sincerely, unironically calls herself "wifey" and the husband calls himself "husband to a trophy wife." Ick!

Haha, my captcha word is "torphy."

Sisyphus said...

While I *totally* have shadenfreude reads, or maybe smug reads, when a fellow blogger and reader posts about this ... eek!

Withywindle said...

The Jane Austen Effect.

Ditto what Squadratomagico said about the helpfulness of self-awareness of one's own folly.

Flavia said...

Dr. V: I love the idea of hate-reading one's own blog.

And okay, your confession about your horrible house-sellers' Twitter feeds allows me to 'fess up about two of the things I've discovered in my own hate-reading in the past: Amazon wishlists (some people have very very extensive ones) and their YouTube channels (you really don't want to see their clips of their children or their pet ferrets, except that you totally do, esp. because they give you nauseating glimpses into their actual homes/lives).

The only upside I can see to this behavior is that being a complete internet stalker means I'm very aware of every piece of information that's out there about ME, whether under my actual name, this pseudonym, or my various other internet handles and nicknames.

Anonymous said...

Wow. There is a name to it. I thought there was something uniquely wrong with me for doing this regularly.

Now I'm convinced lots of others do it (as demonstrated by the confessions) but I still feel ashamed, like it's a nasty habit that I would be super embarrassed if anyone knew about.

Like if I wrote about my hate-reading on the internet, the people who I hate-read would hate-read me for hate-reading, and feel superior to me. OMG, are they actually superior to me because they're not hate-readers, they're just earnest losers? I'm such a jerk.

I feel oddly comforted that so many people that I would never hate-read (because I think they're cool) actually admit to being accomplished hate-readers.

Maybe this is why I'm a 99% lurker, 1% commenter.

Andrew Stevens said...

Just to break up the chorus a bit, I never hate-read and can't imagine why I would wish to. Although I do read some bloggers who obviously do hate-read (come to think of it, probably most of the bloggers I read fall into this camp) and occasionally enjoy the amusing dissections which result from it. So I suppose that's almost the same thing.

moria said...

Having the same experience of simultaneous identification and anxiety that everyone else appears to be having.

I am also, in a kind of Pavlovian response, trying to figure out a way to turn the hermeneutics of hate-reading to pedagogical use. Ideas? (Cf. my entire relationship with The Faerie Queene.)

-k- said...

My internet usage has become a bit healthier in this respect, I think- I'm still totally guilty of doing it but it now tends to be a transitional stage on the way to not reading a blog anymore. When it gets to the point that I can identify hate-reading as a major factor in my visit to a site, that's the signal that it's time to stop. This kind of stuff can make you feel really gross if you let it go on.

squadratomagico said...

Oh God... my schadenfreude blog just posted something so spectacularly obtuse!!! **headdesk** Not as bad as some of hir true classics, but just so weirdly out of touch.

*Vent over*

Flavia said...

Squadrato: heh.

And by strange coincidence, I received your comment in my in-box at the very moment I was Googling someone I'm in touch with on Facebook, but whom I haven't seen or been in close contact with for a long while--and about whom the internet revealed something actually kinda scandalous that is a matter of public record.

Which just goes to prove the point about what hate-reading is and is not: this person's Facebook self-presentations sometimes drive me nuts (though that wasn't why I was Googling him/her; there was a different, totally legitimate reason for it!). But discovering this genuinely somewhat damaging information made me feel really sad for and compassionate towards a person who otherwise mostly exasperates me. I don't want bad things to happen to the people I hate-read--even when they're bad things that fit my own biases or narratives about them.