Why Your Addiction To Hate Is Turning You Into A Monster (And How To Quit)

Photo: Matt Collamer on Unsplash
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Self

What happened to us? Yes, us — human beings. Where did we go wrong? Because it doesn't take much to know that something is very wrong with us, what with how we hate so fervently, at every chance we get. Why do we hate so much? How did we turn into the species that brought hate to the planet on a daily basis?

We could say that the past few years in politics really brought out the worst in us ... but that would be softening the reality of it. The hate within human beings seemed to be boiling for an eternity, and like any infection, it just needed a way out. Politics was a good out, and the internet, like social media, made for a fast-flowing highway of unending hateful expression. Hating freely and letting everyone know, became (and is now) the norm ... and why? Because we can. Because hate is our addiction and the faux power high we get from it has us convinced that we are always right. 

There's no stop sign here. This road is on fire, and each hateful step we take releases more of what was always there: racism, sexism, bigotry. If we don't understand something, as in a group, a people, an individual, or an ideology, we then seek to hurt it, maim it and kill it. No exceptions, it's all "my way or the highway." We have become so utterly intolerant of anything and everything that either disagrees with us or is different than us; we are no longer curious, tolerant, interested, or forgiving. We are a species that has evolved into a permanently annoyed and unforgiving state of being.

The other day, I pulled my car into a 4-way traffic crossing. Another car pulled in at the same time. The man in the car looked at me; he must have imagined I was his enemy, and instead of smiling or waving like a good neighbor, he immediately gave me the finger and spat out something dark and intensely hateful, as he sped off. His face was twisted with loathing for me, a total stranger, who was merely sitting there, doing nothing. And why did he do it? Because he can.

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We have become monsters.

So, we take to social media to express ourselves. We voice our disapproval over this or that. We withhold nothing when it comes to vehemently stating how much we hate something now. And if we don't know who to rage at that day, we check in with the news. We check in with social media. We find who the culprit of the day is, and we gang up on them because hate is always more effective when done en masse. The internet not only gives life to our hate, but it also validates it. We seek approval for our hate, and we receive it, which fans the flames even more. It's as if we have a quota to fill, and the sad part is that we always have a surplus.

But this hate — is anyone getting anything out of it? Outside of the thrill one might get over expressing one's self without a filter on the internet, what are human beings really getting out of this?

Everybody is stressed and paranoid. People no longer watch the news. People no longer believe anything they're told.

The acknowledgment of social justice and the compassion needed in order to understand and bring these important issues to light is now lost in the hateful rhetoric that surrounds them. If a person or group wants to protect itself, it makes its statement and hopes for support. 

It either gets it, or it doesn't — and that's the real problem: nothing is as strong as hate, so human rights and the very real concerns of the day take a backseat to the circus of hate that dominates every second of every day. Righteous indignation is stronger than right behavior. There's simply no hellish fun in doing the right thing, but there's always a party going on over in Hate Town.

Last year, somewhere between the conspiracy theories and the manipulative and endlessly bad news, I decided to stop watching the news media. It started becoming so mindless and leading, so redundant and excessively boring that I recognized I was getting nothing out of it but anxiety.

The media, both social and news, were snowballing; it's as if it couldn't get worse but was hellbent on trying — and it did, and still does. It's just not getting better. The hate is stronger now, the division is scary and unnecessary, and our fear of our fellow humans is at an all-time high. What are we forgetting here? What did we not try, or did we simply pass on making an effort to heal things?

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"What the world needs now is love, sweet love. That's the only thing that there's just too little of." - Burt Bacharach

We forgot love. We are in the midst of forgetting kindness. We are no longer even trying.

We're now riding this wave of hate with such ferocity that if we don't resort to our one remaining option, we will not only burn out as a species — we will deserve to.

Our only remaining option is kindness as it seems the only thing we haven't used to try and stop this ship from sinking. I don't mean gooey false friendliness, and I don't mean greeting people with your hands in prayer pose while saying, "namaste." I mean good, old-fashioned, wholesome, well-intended kindness. As in, "Be a nice person."

We've come to question goodness and generosity. We pour our doubt all over love. We don't let others rejoice, and we prevent them from seeking happiness. And even though we've always been prone to hate and lemming-like behavior, we used to "give peace a chance." We used to try.

We need to try again. We need to bring back kindness, compassion, caring for our fellow human beings. Even it means faking it 'til we make it. We need to try because the good part is kindness isn't dead, it's just laying dormant, waiting for us to rediscover its glorious healing qualities.

I find that if there's something I 'need' to know, it lets itself be known, so I no longer watch the news, at all, on any channel, on any platform. And while I'm certain there are folks who would call me woefully ignorant, I'm working the bliss side of that equation.

My life is my own, and I choose peace. 

For me, to get to peace, I need to be kind, but not only that — I need to allow kindness to come my way. This means I need to consciously walk away from that which doesn't serve my peace.

I walk away from potential arguments with friends or strangers. I never need the last word, in fact, if you start a fight with me, there's a good chance I won't respond; I don't need to make you aware of my feelings; I'm the only one who needs to know what I think or feel.

I walk away from material that upsets me. There is no allure in my being sickened. I get no joy being in the gladiatorial audience.

I walk away from those who need to be right at the cost of truth.

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To a certain degree, I walk away from the standards that keep me locked onto the grid. I do not believe in the government, religion, politics, federal healthcare ... these things have never helped my peace, so I leave them behind.

I say "hello" to everyone. I smile at everyone. I do not offer my opinion, nor do I dole out unsolicited advice.

I keep to myself a lot. I garden, cook and practice a vegan lifestyle, which in itself is a way of showing kindness and mercy to animals. It also keeps me healthy and radiant, which in turn allows me to feel good. Feeling good as a result of wise nutritional choices means less stress, less disease, less body pain.

I know exactly what makes me happy and I give myself lots of it. On the same note, I know what makes me unhappy and I avoid those things at all cost.

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I am here for my friends, and for strangers, should they need an understanding heart, or merely the kindness of another stranger.

I am always polite to servers, cashiers, and workers.

I have not always been nice to customer service reps on the phone, and that is something I need to work on. I have no right to be evil and harsh to a person whose job it is to help me with a technical problem I don't understand.

I take joy in the little things: a spirited conversation I have with someone in the aisle at the supermarket, the taste of a new recipe that I've tried, a kind text from my daughter, the laughter of my best friend. I take joy in painting, in color. I take joy in writing, teaching, reading, and learning new things.

I take joy in young people and in all they give us.

I don't want to be part of the hate any longer. And while I am a journalist — someone who writes professionally about hate and social injustice — I personally do not hold on to the emotion that fuels the fire of my own writing. I cannot. Because the kindness that I believe is due for the healing of this planet and all of its creatures is the kindness that starts with the self.

Be kind to yourself so that you may be able to show kindness to others. Treat yourself to a life without stress, by saying a firm 'NO' to the things that you recognize as hurtful. Do not ever again worry about your looks, your beliefs, your financial status.

Practice kindness to others, or lose yourself in the poisonous addiction of hate and intolerance.

Don't engage in disruption.

Don't help others hate.

Stop yourself before you post antagonism.

Refrain from saying something nasty just because you can.

Hate promises ... but only love delivers.

Dori Hartley is primarily a portrait artist. As an essayist and a journalist, she can be read in The Huffington Post, ParentDish, YourTango, The Daily Beast, Psychology Today, More Magazine, XOJane, MyDaily and The Stir. Her art books ‘Beauty’, ‘Antler Velvet’, and 'Mads Mikkelsen: Portraits of the Actor' are all available on Amazon.