Hate. Did you listen to mainstream media today and scream? Did you jump on social media and stalk a few haters using words you’d never use with your kid in the room? Did you scream at the television during the ball game and scare off the cat?
You may be one of millions of Americans addicted to hate.
Neurologists studied brain scans and found some alarming facts. Feelings of intense hate and intense love trigger the same areas of the brain except for one key difference. Hate triggers the brain to judge more sharply. Love clouds those same judgmental neurons. Hmm. Interesting. Here’s the study if you want to read it in full. So love and hate ARE related, but love makes us look past each other’s flaws and hate does what? Oh, hate makes us harshly judge one another. Ouch. That’s right. No matter what the truth is about that other person, our hate filter shows them as ugly.
Here’s another interesting part of the study. Both intense hate and intense love are closely linked with the areas of the brain that trigger OCD behavior like compulsive thoughts. So if we feel intense hate, neurons are triggered that cause us to want to create that hate-filled surge again and again. Yeah. That seems addictive.
Does this explain why we troll people/groups on social media that make us angry? (I might’ve done this to the kicker’s wife that threatened Richard Sherman…) Is this why talk radio continues to flourish? Is this why sports are so damn popular? I’m not sure. Maybe. All I can say for sure is that I’m a simple woman that had a question and started down a rabbit hole of research about hate that I’m finding really really interesting.
So what does hate say about the hater? Well, according to Psychology Today, hate says everything about the hater and nothing about the hated. Hate is usually accompanied by fear and anxiety and often shows an ugliness inside us that we’ve spent a ton of energy stuffing deep deep down into the shadows of our minds. If you feel hate, let it be a wake up call. Notice that hate, name it and then ask yourself where it came from. If you can put a finger on that wriggly little thought-worm, then you can also deem it powerless.
Finally, no matter what cause haters organize against, hate is a terrible vehicle for action. In another Psychology Today article about the toxicity of hate, I was struck with this powerful quote, “Anger: an acid that can do more harm to the vessel in which it is stored than to anything on which it is poured.”
We all remember the hate-fueled Westboro Baptist Group, right? That group was most certainly addicted to hate.
Well, I won’t hate. More than ever, today I’m called to love and care and give.
And for me, love and compassion are the antiserum to this climate of hate. When I dip a toe in social media and start to feel the hate, I yank myself away and tie on my Asics. After running a couple miles, the runner’s high hits and the hate fades to nothing. The fake ugliness, the not-so-important differences between us seem insignificant. And again I see my fellow humans as they are, beautiful, loving, complicated people just trying to do the best they can.