A few years back, being a member of a social networking site indicated that you were a social animal on a lookout to make more friends. Not any longer. Increasingly, people are beginning to use these sites to vent their frustration against particular targets. Hate clubs are the coolest things on any social networking site. Be it Himesh Reshammiya or Ekta Kapoor, if you dislike anyone, now you can announce that fact to the whole world. In fact, understanding the dynamics of this phenomenon is not too complicated. Most of us view joining these communities as an expression of our likes and dislikes. And when we find thousands of people sharing a similar notion, our own feelings get reaffirmed. Hence, we can safely join ‘I Hate Mr X’ Club and feel we have got our point across.
There is no denying the fact that these communities are indeed an extension of our personal preferences but we do need to examine the psychology and the politics of ‘hate clubs’ a bit more closely. First of all, hate is a strong word and, indeed, a stronger feeling. And upon the experience of this emotion, psychologists insist that we should analyse it and determine why exactly we feel it. Contrary to popular perception, by joining these clubs we only succeed in dismissing our emotions in smug confidence. There is power in numbers and when thousands of people seem to agree with us, why do we need to scratch the surface? Another great drawback of these clubs is that they lead to a lot of negative vibes on sites which were essentially created to harbour a warm sense of bonding between different people. Also, isn’t it ironical that we find a common link with others in the extremely destructive emotion of hate? So, the only thing we have in common with the co-members of such a club is that we hate Mr X. There may be very specific reasons for hating him in specific cases. These, if discussed, could also provide us a valuable insight into our own selves. Unfortunately, that does not happen too often.
Moreover, these hate clubs are soon turning from celebrity-bashing to targeting those individuals with whom we do not get along. There is, in fact, a new breed of anti-social networking sites which has catapulted this growing trend into new heights. On an anti-social networking site, we can safely do away with the rituals of being friendly and safely target our “enemies”. An online punching bag with growing membership. It is definately an innovative destructive concept.
The internet has become the modern ‘personal diary’. Only, it is no longer personal. Our thoughts and feelings are meant to be shared. Undoubtedly, there is a new-found euphoria in this. However, what we miss out in the midst of finding ‘partners-in-hate’ is a personal evaluation, introspection. And that cannot be replaced by sheer numbers.
There is no question of doing away with these clubs and sites. That is undemocratic and would aggravate and not solve the problem. Instead, we need to rework these hate clubs.
We could begin by re-naming them. As mentioned before, hate is a very strong word. You could hardly be nurturing this emotion against hundreds of people. If you are, then the problem is much more serious! Instead of treating our negative feelings in this arbitrary and dismissive manner, we could indeed use the internet to share our feelings and moreover understand them. If we join a club that claims to dislike someone, let’s ask each other WHY. It would do wonders for our perceptions about that person as well as ourselves.