Wednesday, June 22, 2016

On Hate-Reading.

This is a topic that's been on my mind quite a bit over the past few days, so I just decided to go ahead and do a blog post discussing it.

So, hate-reading. Simply defined, reading something despite prior knowledge saying that you will dislike it. But it needs a slightly more detailed explanation to get into the real meaning of it. Some of you might be reading this and wondering, "If you know you're going to dislike it, why invest your time in it?" and you'd be 100% right in saying that it doesn't make sense. But I think the factors here are that there's a difference between dislike and disgust and that there are different ways to consume things. 

For example: you, dear reader, have probably hate-read before. Nearly all of us have that friend (in my case multiple friends) on Facebook that you keep around simply to roll your eyes at their posts. Maybe it's the person who uses their Facebook as if it were their personal journal, posting every single menial detail of their day, from what they had for breakfast that day to the dream they had the night before. Perhaps it's that person who thinks they're so cool and likes to prove it to everyone on a daily basis. Or, the person who has laughably awful grammatical errors in every single post. Or the person whose political beliefs seem to make absolutely no sense in your mind. The list goes on and on. But, in all of these cases, there's some form of enjoyment to that dislike. 

We see the person using Facebook as their personal journal as woefully out of touch with the purpose of Facebook and find humor in that. We find humor in the try-hard desperately trying to come off as so cool. The grammatical errors and the seemingly non-sensical beliefs trigger our sense of superiority toward the person saying those things. In every single case, there's some sort of enjoyment factor to reading these posts. Even if you vehemently disagree with someone, most of us find enjoyment in telling someone else why they're wrong, or at the very least, quietly rolling our eyes at how wrong they are. 

There is a difference, however, between this enjoyable dislike and disgust/offensiveness. While you might keep the obnoxious "cool kid" try-hard on your friends list for the lulz, you're probably not going to keep around the rude, offensive loudmouth who constantly insults everyone and is generally just a jerk. There's no fun to that. And thus, the difference between the lighthearted mockery of grammatical errors and the outright disgust at offensive people. 

Also, as mentioned in the opening, there are different ways to consume things. The main difference that needs to be made in this post is the difference between in-person and not in-person. While the try-hard "cool kid" might be really entertaining to follow online, if you feel that way about someone, you're not likely to be close with them in person. While it might be funny to read their posts online, they're probably rather grating in person. The same is true with hate-reading in general- enjoyable at a distance and online, but you wouldn't really want to be around that person IRL. So, that's my little explanation for why I think that we sometimes get enjoyment out of hating things. 

Personally, I kind of see there being two different types of hate-reading, one of which I indulge in regularly, and the other of which I'm anxious to dip my toes into. The first of these is, of course, the online hate-reading. AKA, the thing I've spent the entirety of this post discussing so far. As discussed, we pretty much all do this, and I'm probably one of the worst offenders.

All of the different types of people listed are based upon my own Facebook friends list. I have FB friends at pretty much every point in the political spectrum, and hate-reading the posts of people I vehemently disagree with is beautifully angering, sometimes to the point that I get in FB arguments just because I can. There's one person I've almost deleted on several occasions because of his ignorant, idiotic posts about women, but I keep him around not only as a reminder that these people actually exist, but also as someone to roll my eyes at. I have younger friends on FB who are definitely those try-hard "cool kids" who post mirror selfies with their bra showing and talk about getting high when I know they've never smoked weed a day in their life. And, of course, I've got some older FB friends who post everything, from the dream they had the night before to a random/pointless/uninteresting encounter they had at work with a customer. And I keep all of them around so that I have someone to roll my eyes at. 

But, I also take it further. My best friend has one friend on FB that we're notorious for looking up whenever we're bored. He posts gym selfies constantly, professed his love for his girlfriend after a week of dating, and litters all of his posts with GO DAWGS, cheering on his favorite team even when they're not actually playing. His posts are typically seemingly pointless and uninteresting except when hate-read in jest. My best friend and I also like to randomly go on the Men's Health website and read all of the dating "advice" for men, pretty much all of which is ridiculous and littered with underhanded (often unintentional) sexism. We hate everything about it, but it's endlessly fun to ridicule. 

But then, there's the second type of hate-reading. The hate-reading that exits the sphere of posts, opinions, and statuses online and enters into the literary world of books and authors. 

And this is where I tend to look the other way. In my knowledge, I have never purposely set out to hate-read a book. If I hear bad reviews on a book or if I don't think I'll like it, I simply don't pick it up. Sure, sometimes I pick up a book that has mixed reviews where I'm unsure if I'll like it, but I go into that book with the attitude of "OK, it's possible that I won't like this book, but I'm going to give it a shot because it sounds interesting." 

Simply put, I'm a reader and a lover of books. Someone put quite a bit of their time and energy into this bound up pile of pages and words that I'm about to read, and I want them to have succeeded at crafting an interesting book. Sometimes, it doesn't work out and I end up not liking it or thinking that it wasn't well-written, etc. but I at least try to enter every book with an open mind. Often, if I already have a negative mindset going into the book, I just won't bother with the book, because I'll probably end up projecting that mindset onto the book even if it doesn't deserve it. I try to start out as objectively as possible in order to be a fair reader/reviewer.

But, as the topic of hate-reading has come to the forefront of my mind, I've been itching more and more to pick up a book and just hate-read the crap out of it. As much as I enjoy hate-reading online, I'm sure to enjoy hate-reading in book form. However, right now, it feels a little dirty

What I mean by this is that it almost feels like a sleazy thing to do. As forementioned, someone spent quite a bit of time and energy crafting a book, just for me to pick it up with the express purpose of hating it and taking a big ol' crap on it. It seems a bit like a jerk move. But at the same time... I still really want to do it. Recently, I've read some 1 star reviews of books that have made me insatiably curious about picking up the book to experience it for myself.

So you see the dilemma here. Probably. If not, allow me to explain. While I love hate-reading online, hate-reading books feels a bit slimy to me, given the amount of work put into them by their authors. But, at the same time, there are some purported train-wrecks that I want to experience for myself. So, I'm at an impass. If I hate-read this book, I thoroughly expect the fans of the series to jump down my throat and accuse me of being mean or making fun of a book. Again, as in the beginning, "why would you read the book if you expect to hate it?" And here's my explanation. If, in the future, I hate read your favorite book and you're upset with me, I'd like to direct you to the statements below in hopes that you won't attack me in the comments.

I don't expect to hate the book. (Wait, what?) Yep, I don't expect to hate it. I expect the book to be a complete mess, but I expect to enjoy every single second of experiencing that complete mess. If I thought I wouldn't enjoy reading it, I wouldn't read it. But I expect to have a great time reading this book and picking apart all of its flaws. I expect to binge read this book, just like I would probably binge-watch a season of a reality show, even if I thought it was utterly ridiculous. I certainly don't want to offend the author or upset them by reading their book specifically because it sounds like a crappy book. But, they put this book out into the world to be read and reviewed, and my single voice will just be one additional voice in whatever cacophony of people are criticizing it.

You might love it, and that's great for you and I will never fault you for that. You're entitled to your opinion, just as I'm entitled to mine. But based on reviews, it sounds like something I'll love to hate, and I want to experience the purported train-wreck myself. Maybe the critics are wrong and I'll end up liking it. You never know. But based on what I've seen, it sounds like a car crash that I don't want to look away from. I don't mean any of this in a mean, rude, or contemptful way, and it's certainly not meant as an insult toward the author, as I prefer to separate the art from the artist. 

Hate-reading can be incredibly different from picking up a book in honest and ending up disliking it. If I pick up a book expecting to like it and it turns out to be not-so-great, it could turn into hate-reading depending on the book, but in most cases, it just ends up being a book that I don't like. Whereas with hate-reading, I approach the book with a healthy dose of snark. From the start, cynical, sarcastic comments will probably made and should be expected. My point is not to offend, but to approach criticism with a comedic, snarky tone; to point out the ridiculousness of a book in a humorous way.

So that's it for this post on hate-reading. And before anyone even mentions it, don't expect to see me picking up Fifty Shades of Grey anytime soon. I don't want to touch it with a 10 foot pole, let alone hate-read it. Let me know in the comments if you also indulge in some online hate-reading, and while you're at it, let me know what books you've hate-read (if any). 

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