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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  • Katie S.

    The woman I used to stalk on Facebook did a friend purge and now I can’t look at pictures from her Croatian, Swiss Alps, Thailand, etc. vacations.

  • Lynn

    Not so much hate reading, but just reading and seeing other peoples posts which leave me feeling boring, inadequate and loserish because I’m not living in a cool city with a huge group of pretty friends, having all the things, and traveling all over the world. What has social media done to us?!

    • Wilted Orchids

      Yeah I know! This is springing a new age of depression.

    • Those cool people have the same lives as you do..they just are really good at posting at the optimal times to make their lives appear super glam. Those of us who are good with social media are really good at creating the life we want people to see…but we wake up looking crappy and feel like a rag at night, just like everyone else. I say…be happy for people but take everything with a grain of salt cuz everyone has their package! PS sometimes I hate read about super popular bloggers cuz I so aspire to get there and like…why are you there already?? But I still love you man repeller!

  • For me it’s the opposite. I don’t mind so much the happy folks it’s the hood ones that I don’t like. The ones that overshare their drama, post an entire journal of what their kid did, or posting a bunch of blurry pictures of them making out with their BF. That’s the stuff I could go without. I know that everybody in the world can’t possibly be bubbly and happy go lucky …I’m just not here for the ones who constantly have some drama, they are the cause of it, share it on FB, and then yell and scream they want better or they don’t have time for these “people”…

  • Wilted Orchids

    Here I am, getting sunburned by florescent lighting from 8-5, while you are bronzing beautifully in Monaco! Why? I hate everything about happy people. The loathing keeps me coming back though. waa! xoxo

  • Lots of people keep saying they do this but I tend to be the kind of person with the good for you mindset and carry on with my own x

    NRC ♥

  • Raquel

    There’s a girl from my hometown that hashtags every word in the universe to accompany every glamorous insta-post. #girls #fun #funtimes #life #love #lolololol – I know I am not the only one who has one of these. Can’t say that I miss her.

    • Arlette Contreras

      YES!!!! SO ANNOYING!!!

    • hahahahaha! I love that this post and the comments make me realise that i’m not alone in this! x

  • AndiB

    I have a girl on my FB who, for the last 2-3 years, has been planning her entire wedding via polls on her newsfeed…. BUT SHE’S NOT ENGAGED!! Every time she posts something like, “I love Tiffany blue and chocolate brown! What do you think?” People comment underneath, “Oh wow, didn’t know he proposed.” I don’t understand why she’s not embarrassed, or why HE hasn’t told her to cut it out. Yet I can’t turn away. It’s a train wreck I am obsessed with following.

    • Jackie @ Kleiden drew

      Her story makes me sad. There are more girls like that than we know. Sigh…Perhaps they know something more intimately that we do not? Damn, I hope so.

  • Or pick a name

    This is probably the rightest thing I have read for ages.

  • Gisele Modelli

    Guilty, guilty, guilty! I have a read-hate relationship with two people, whom I know in person and they are normal and together (medium-boring-borderline mediocre) and on FB they claim they do some epic awesome shit…lies, exaggeration, augmentation, you name it, LIES! I keep telling myself, if I knew the world is about to end, I’m going to bust this cretin as if I were standing at the Apollo Theater!!! And I keep coming back to check on what they’re lying about everyday…sickening!

    • Guin

      YES! I have one that liks to post about her “pool.” It’s an inflatable pool for pete’s sake but you’d never know by the way she talks about it. LOL

  • Sara S.

    Ahhh!! Yes! It’s addicting! Also, leaves you wondering if they won the lottery and you just never found out about it.

  • Everythingisnormal

    This is all extraordinarily understandable–but I feel we make a lot of drama out of what really is a simple issue of self discipline. Limit your friends to people you admire, people you actively wish to remain in contact with and you will save yourself the pain and jealousy. I am not sure I understand what the fascination is with other’s lives (save for boyfriend’s ex girlfriends, of course).

    Perhaps I am just lucky. The most fascinating people on my are my best friends; they are the world travelers, the helping-hippies, the Burning Man Babes, musicians, artists, and writers that I admire the ever loving shit out of. When you truly absolutely adore someone and admire them, it has nothing to do with your own sense of ego…you are simply proud to be associated with such a person. And, at the same time, I recognize my niche: the fashion loving bitch with an attitude who smokes too many cigarettes. I can dig that.

    LOVE THYSELF! It’s too much energy to project our insecurities onto the world.

    • alejandra

      lmao this is the kind of thing everyone is talking about..

  • andrieya

    this is so funny because –GUILTY! a girl i know as an acquaintance travels so much with her banker boyfriend and is always taking the coolest trips and going to the prettiest places!

  • Chloe

    Sometimes I’m one of those loathable people who will customize their profile to be perfect -happy care-free moments only, big smiles and quotes about the joy of living- so I can look at it when I’m swamped by depression -which is often. And when I do enter that stage, I will spend lonely hours stalking ‘acquaintances’ on FB and hate their excitement for being tagged in a mediocre place. Petty, sad… but true.

  • kate

    who needs 20 paragraphs in the NYT to explain why people hate-read? one word: jealousy. at least that’s the word that comes to mind when i read an old college friend’s posts about living across the street from katherine heigl and running into her BFF conan o’brien in the supermarket.

    p.s. your life looks pretty fab to me, missy!

  • Cherie Gisondi

    Seems childish. It’s no different from being jealous of people in “real life.” Live your own life, and stop obsessing about others.

  • There is this one girl that I knew in middle school that has the most obnoxious pictures in that they are so planned out. It hurts. Her makeup is perfectly applied yet not unlike that of a “Valley Mom/Cougar”. And while I don’t know this for sure, all of her pictures look as if she waited months to get that halo of sun just 92.1345 degrees above her left eyebrow. And what’s more is the abundance of captions like “feels so good to be back to the grind” or “3 mile walk at 5:45 IN THE MORNING just to clear my head!!”. It really kills me.
    A few nights ago I was discussing with a friend the ways to go about un-friending most of our fellow high school classmates upon our graduation this spring. We discussed how, as times goes on, the tolerance for a large number of increasingly un-like-minded (or narrow-minded) kids plummets. The general consensus for Facebook post-spring was: “Snap, we’re each just gonna have, like, 7.5 friends…but we’re totally okay with that.”

  • Hi

    We’re probably just jealous (but also rightfully annoyed) by their seemingly perfect lives, but in reality they are just as insecure as we are- They may just be better at bullshitting and filter-choosing.

    DE-FRIEND EM!! Srsly best decision for at least 1/4 of your mental sanity. There were 3 girls in particular who made me anxious and insecure on The Facebook and deleting them at least made me not have to see their “exciting/successful” life updates and recent party pixx. Ok fine sometimes I still wonder about them and have to hack into my friends accounts but for the most part not being able to see their shit on a daily basis eliminates comparing my life to theirs.

    lol. 21st Century probz

  • Lisa Thomson

    Duck face, selfies on instagram get on my nerves. I can ignore almost everything else but those grate me. I like real pic’s of real life. I also like ‘real’ blogs with raw emotion.

  • Zoe

    oh lawd, Yes. This is definitely one of my habits that I am not proud of. And yet even though I acknowledge this shortcoming, time and time again I find myself having to ‘snap out of it’ and get back to my work. Wallow in self-pity/anxiety, rinse, wash and repeat.

  • Jessica Chalmers

    OMG i have to admit i do this…. there is a mutual old friend of mine and my best friends who posts unbelievably dull updates of her success in shopping with vouchers and how many times she got up to feed her baby in the night……………i am so relieved to find out i am not the only one and not a horrible person when i do screen shots of the updates and send them to my friend, no explanation on them as she feels the pain too….. why dont i unfriend her though if it annoys me!? who knows!

  • LA

    I hate read my Aunt’s ridiculous symphathy posts on her FB. Some people just need likes…

  • disqus_A3VXymBCBp

    OMG. I hate read ALL. THE. TIME.!! But not because im a snarky bitch….I just cant help it with a certain Frenemy on Instagram! All her posts seem like passive aggressive digs to me, and when I explain it to other people (like I am now), I sound like a paranoid loser, but thats what it feels like!!!!! Ugh. SO annoying.
    Example: if I post a selfie where I look good, inevitably a sexy-face selfie will pop up on her feed the next day with #effyourselfie underneath! See? Am i right or am I paranoid?

    Jeez….proof reading my comment made me realize the sad, sad state of the world that we live in. Social Media is the Apocalypse.

  • Tia

    Truthfully,I would have never unfollowed him. I completely understand what you’re saying but I feel as that at the end of the day that was a harsh move. You always want what you don’t have. And on one hand, someone would absolutely die to be in your shoes. I think at the end of the day it is finding that balance within and …if engagements, babies or what not happen in other’s have to think about the fact that ..with time it’ll be you otherwise …you wouldn’t be living your life. So y get annoyed? Charish what you have and when the times comes, it’ll be your turn. Am I wrong?

  • Arlette Contreras

    Theres a “friend” on facebook whose posts ANNOY me. All his posts are either about drinking, smoking weed, and the occasional one about work. I really wish this person would do something meaningful with his life but I know its not in my place to tell him anything.

  • Ally Frazier

    I think, for some of my old friends, I AM that person they hate-read. On the other hand, a lot of people who are still stuck in my hometown and are constantly posting their baby-mama drama, I seriously can’t turn away! Maybe it’s a two-way street.

  • Vanja Siebler

    We all hate-read – it’s why Instagram is so successful, the nature of social media is jealous and destructive that way – lurking and stalking have never had a positive connotation, right? I think that’s not quite true and I would argue that it’s just another manifestation of our consumerist tendencies. We struggle to optimise ourselves to the best product we can be and when even Sienna & Valencia cease to further improve our experiences and the way we showcase them, we surrender. We surrender to the pressure we accept and create and, much like you argued back then Amelia, choose to make the others smaller, ridicule them and thus make us feel better. Hate, in this case as always, is love’s neighbour, turned around by our inability to accept that we could do better but don’t want to. Our competitive instinct dictates that the poster-poster does something better than us, or pretends to, and we can’t live with it, can we? We destroy their sandcastle behind their back and laugh until we get told off by our mum/conscience…