When I discovered Hater, it was love at first sight. According to Tech Insider, Brendan Alper developed the dating app based on the idea that people form stronger attachments based on mutual dislikes than on common interests. This concept is explored in Jennifer Bosson’s 2006 study, “Interpersonal chemistry through negativity: Bonding by sharing negative attitudes about others.” Bosson states, “There’s something really powerful about the discovery of shared negative attitudes.” Hear, hear. There’s not much that’s better than having one’s prejudices confirmed by someone with a Ph.D. – unless it’s trusting one’s own experience without needing to submit it to the Letter People for their seal of approval. Hmm. Must add, “those who can’t hold an opinion that hasn’t been endorsed by the powers that be”. Hater is, at last, a dating app for the most curmudgeonly among us to bond over our mutual distaste for society, and ride grudgingly off into the sunset on an obstreperous donkey. Or so I thought.
After reading the article, I began to mentally craft my profile. World, how do I hate thee? Let me count the ways. I could fill a tome without the slightest difficulty – people who say “Hate is a strong word” (Yes, that’s why I used it, but thank you for your input), Rupi Kaur, exhibitionists, March frost, styrofoam cups, dueling before noon. . . but what about those antipathies that apply not only to the hateful thing, but to the kind of person who also hates it? For instance, not only do I hate people who make grammatical errors on the internet, but I hate the kind of person who will call people out on said errors. My dreams of hateful love were further thwarted when I tried to get the app and discovered that it’s only for iPhone. Oh, bitter irony! 78% of people on Hater claim to hate Apple nerds, the little hypocrites.
Despite its flawed execution, the concept of Hater is apt. Based on my own experience, I can certainly confirm that hating the same things is integral to a relationship. Not only does trashing things provide endless amusement for those cozy evenings before the fire, it’s a way to establish a world by exclusion. A city, for instance, is distinguished as much by what is not in it, as by what is – for instance, the city includes a grassy park where fluffy ducklings frolic in a wishing pool, but excludes the foul swamp with razor grass. Having similar aversions is a way to establish boundaries like these, indicating what is and is not acceptable within the relationship.
NY Mag’s Paul Kix suggests that “…by going negative—thereby breaking a general rule of first impressions—you signal that you instinctively trust this new person, because you suspect he or she might feel the same way.” While virtually everyone feels comfortable expressing a fondness for fluffy ducklings, one might be significantly less comfortable admitting an abhorrence of altruism. Thus, by expressing an invidious opinion, one makes oneself vulnerable to the other person, which implies not only that you trust them to some extent, but value them enough to want them to know how you actually feel. It may work out fine to lie to a passing acquaintance and claim that you, too, are irresistibly drawn to porcelain frog figurines, but it will be less OK on your twelfth wedding anniversary when they add a vintage replica of the Ragtime Frog to the amphibious legion that has taken over your home.
A further reason that shared antipathy might lead to a stronger bond is that, to use a phrase I hate, “Hate is a strong word.” It is likely that if you say you “hate” something, you are either an oft-hyperbolizing teenager who “hates” the What in Tarnation meme and will “literally die” if they encounter it, or that you actually feel strongly enough about the subject that you are willing to risk conflict to express your opinion. It’s often much easier to say that you “like” or even “love” something that, in truth, you don’t give a tuft of wool about than it is to say you hate that something. Therefore, if you both actually hate something, it is probably a thing that really matters to you both, and will be a stronger foundation for a relationship than a mutual partiality to fluffy ducklings.
Someone ought to create an app similar in concept, but accommodating a stunning range of wrath and hatred such as my own. What if one has no particularly strong feeling about Tom Brady, but feels a strong antipathy towards bags of nuts marked “Caution: Hard Debris”? If I had developed the app, users would be able to write in their own specific peeves. There would also be a much more sophisticated device to measure the degree of one’s aversion than simply “Hate-Dislike-Like-Love.” It would look more like this:
Disinclinations – Most of the cast of Girls (guess which two I like), fishnets, rehydrated raisins (if I wanted to eat a moist raisin, I would eat a grape)
Gripes – Movie theaters that serve foul-smelling hummus and deafening celery, hollow chocolate Easter bunnies, using keys and dustpans
Eschewals – People who don’t respect the Messenger bubbles, The Enormous Room, the word “noble”
Scorns – People with strong feelings about Oxford commas, $89 T-shirts, leather purses with fringe, Randians
Anathemas – Milk that has been frozen and defrosted, people without strong feelings about Oxford commas, Invitation to a Beheading, white pansies with purple spots
Loathings – Purveyors of word salad, spiders who dance mazurkas on your face in the wee hours, dryer sheets
So, while we wait for Hater to come out on Android, we can wile away the desolate hours by worrying our grievances, grumbles, and gripes into priceless pearls of pique with which to adorn the engagement rings of our future disgruntled darlings. What would be in your Miseometer?