Do You Hate-Read?

I follow this one person on Instagram who I used to go to school with who’s so consistently cheery, showered, and downright perfect that I’ve fallen into the habit of taking screenshots of each post that this unnamed pronoun uploads.

Sometimes, I do nothing with the images. It’s almost as if the simulated old-school camera noise made by simultaneously pressing the top and bottom button of my iPhone – *click!* – is enough. Usually I forget I have them saved until someone else goes through my phone and calls me out for my creepy catalogue of the aforementioned individual’s Instagrams.

“Erm…I’m saving those for my Pinterest board,” I lie.

But really, what I do with them is text the shots to one of my friends in all-caps exclamations like, “LOOK AT ME I AM SO PERFECT I HAVE A HAT THAT MATCHES MY DOG.”

For absolutely no reason, this happy individual annoys me. I’ve always chalked it up to my Larry David-ian tendencies, but recently it’s made me feel guilty. I’m not a mean person, so why the unprovoked digs?

According to The New York Times, I’m not alone in my habit.

One of our fantastic readers passed along an article titled “Hate-Reading: Love to Loathe You, Baby,” which describes exactly what I do and points to the fact that it’s almost inevitable among our society today. That lonely feeling brought on by too much digital socializing? Maybe we try to fill its void by connecting to others in the most juvenile possible way: making fun of something. Studies show that it’s when we are feeling sad, or vulnerable, that we’re most inclined to reach for a hate-read.

The thing of it is, when my close friends post pictures of babies and engagements, vacations and birthdays, I’m happy for them. I comment things like, “You look so pretty!,” “She’s beautiful!,” “Congratulations!,” and I mean it.

Is it possible that I’m only annoyed by this individual because I resent our falling out of touch? If I don’t actually know what’s going on in — fine, her life — it’s easier for me to assume she’s filtered it through Valencia one too many times.

Maybe, as the article points out, it’s because in some weird way, I actually kind of miss her, just like literature’s beloved Holden Caulfield ragged on everyone he once knew.

“At the end of ‘The Catcher in the Rye,'” writes the NY Times author, “he nostalgically name-checks a string of phonies and tormentors whom he has railed against for his entire monologue: ‘I sort of miss everybody I told about. Even old Stradlater and Ackley, for instance. I think I even miss that goddam Maurice. It’s funny. Don’t ever tell anybody anything. If you do, you start missing everybody.’

Upon finishing the article, I unfollowed my old friend.

What about you guys? Are there people you used to know who you follow but can’t stand? What is it about their posts that annoy you? Do you think it has anything to do with your past relationship? And what do you think about us, as people who strive to be good in general, who just can’t help but feel these emotions? Is logging off or checking “unfollow” the only solution, or should we go deeper? I can’t wait to read everything you have to say.

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