Why do we hate-watch and hate-follow?

Realistically, we aren’t best friends, nor are completely enamored with everyone we follow on all our platforms. You might have that one account that you can’t bring yourself to unfollow because there’s something so satisfying about rolling your eyes whenever they post, or sharing it with others you know who follow the same person. You might hate-follow a politician so you can see how people make fun and respond to them, or you enjoy watching stitched TikToks where someone is making fun of cringey content posted by a popular influencer you don’t like.

While hate-watching started with, and is usually associated, with TV shows, you’ve probably also hate-watched TikToks, YouTube videos, or vlogs of people you no longer care about or are even annoyed by. Those who have looked into our hate-watching culture often root it in elitism; all of us, on some level, have some sort of superiority complex, and it makes us feel better by seeing something we hate and react by going, “Oh, at least I’m smarter than them.” Similarly, hate-following people gives us a point of comparison: for example, you might still be following an ex because you know you’re doing better than them and want to remind yourself of that. Other reasons we hate-follow people include giving yourself a “bad” reference, so if you ever feel bad about yourself, you can remind yourself that at least you’re not this person you dislike and you don’t share their personality traits. 

As humans, we can’t help but dislike things, be a little spiteful, and frankly, a little hateful. There has been evidence suggesting that people are more likely to build connections based off of the things – and people – they mutually dislike, as well. Sometimes, we just need that little pick-me-up when we’re down by looking at the content of someone we can’t stand. However, it’s important to remember that whoever you hate-watch and follow are still people. It’s one thing to share cringe viral videos, but it’s another to constantly make fun of someone you actually know and interact with and share their content with others who also know who they are. Things like that, and leaving comments making fun of people, no matter who they are, quickly can lead to cyberbullying. Additionally, if all you want to consume is content that makes you feel negative, such as hateful, it can affect your mood and how you interact with others as well. Take the clip from Mean Girls above for example; talking about someone who dislike constantly can negatively affect the others around you.

So long as you can find the balance between hate-following and cyberbullying in check and make it a point to keep hate-watching to a minimum and to yourself, it’s understandable if you want to follow someone who annoys you slightly. After all, we’re all only human.

Do you hate-follow or hate-watch anything? Why do you consume their content? Do you have any guilty pleasures?

Please do not be specific about who you watch and follow.

Moderator ★

Hi! The moderator is a research team member with a background in behavioral health. We're here to help answer your questions and stimulate some great conversation! We don't provide therapy and are not available 24-7 so please if you are in crisis, go to our crisis page: https://sova.pitt.edu/i-need-help-now We look forward to talking to you!

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