Don’t Be a Hater – Why ‘hating’ is over-used

I was watching the Grammy Awards last week, when Kelly Clarkson came on to sing a song. As she began singing, I said out loud to my wife and daughter, “I hate her.” I had seen her sing maybe once before (on ‘Saturday Night Live’, I think), and found the songs she played awful. But my wife, sensing that my comment was an overstatement, asked me why I hated her. She was surprised that I even had enough knowledge of Ms. Clarkson to have such a strong feeling.

My wife was right (she usually is). I don’t really hate Kelly Clarkson, despite the fact that she’s clearly not my cup of tea. And recognizing this, made me do some thinking about hating, in general. I tend to say “I hate that” a lot – I even wrote a blog post about a few of my hates. I have strong opinions, it’s true. The things I like I really like, as well – in fact, I say “I love that” just as often.

But do we really hate the stuff we say we hate? And should we? Hate is a deep and emotionally extreme dislike. It’s passionate and intense. It requires energy. Is disliking Kelly Clarkson really worth all that energy? Do I really need to invest all that commitment to it? The answer, of course, is no. In fact, there are probably very few things worth that kind of commitment and energy – like racism, pollution, Newt Gingrich, to name a few.

There are several other problems with hating, beyond the commitment and energy it requires. First of all, it prevents all further discussion. When you say “I hate that thing”, people who like it can’t even talk to you about it. It’s a conversation check-mate. In fact, it’s a hate-mate.

It also closes you off to experiencing any further experiences with the hated thing. If you’ve determined that you hate something, then you’ve made up your mind, with conviction. The amount of energy it would take to reverse that hatred is considerable. So you close off your mind to new information about it. You refuse to review the data you’ve used to come up with your decision. You avoid updates, can never discover news or have any new experiences with the thing. And you never allow yourself to see the other side of the argument. You’re hate-locked.

Plus, once you’ve decided you hate something, you never ask someone who likes it why they do. What do they see in it? What’s good about it? The truth is, there probably are things about Kelly Clarkson that are good – and I should be interested in hearing what they are.

And you never again question yourself about why you hate it. You simply do. I hate so-and-so, always have, always will. That’s just the way it is.

So, the more I thought about it, the more I thought that hating was often not a good thing. That there’s a BIG difference between “I don’t like” and “I hate”. So I decided I was going to reserve the big hate for when it’s deserved.

Instead, I’ll say “I don’t favor that”. Or “I’m not a fan”. Or “I’m really not interested in it”. So, I’m here to say, I don’t think people should be haters. This is probably the only thing I’ve ever agreed with Sarah Palin about. Because, to be honest, I hate her.


  1. Another point is that opinions and feelings can change – you may “hate” (though really more so “dislike”) something now, but there’s a chance that at some point you may end up feeling differently. I’ve made strong comments about certain things only to eventually feel slightly foolish and embarrassed when I change my mind and have to admit that I spoke too soon.

    But like you said, there’s a time and place for hate. For instance – I, too, hate Sarah Palin.

    1. So true. Although, often, when you “hate” something, you don’t allow yourself to change your point of view. So you’re right, if it does end up happening, you certainly feel a bit sheepish, to say the least.

      Thanks for the comments. And keep on hatin’ Palin.

  2. sarah is ok. she just should never legislate. and really – how can you hate kelly clarkson? you don’t know a thing about her…are you mr. know it all? oooh i crack myself up after a wine or two!

  3. When I was a child, my aunt taught me to be very sparing in the use of that word, that actually hating was a bad thing, worse than using swear words. Really good move on her part.

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