Hate is complicated and it arises on many levels and has many purposes. We can have a complicated relationship to it. According to Dictionary, to hate means “to dislike intensely or passionately; feel extreme aversion for or extreme hostility toward; detest.” One way of describing hate is to say it is the part of us that says no.
So if you eat some food and hate it, you may do so for any number of reasons. Perhaps it does not taste good to you or your body is telling you that it is not good for you. So hating something can provide you with information about what is good for you and what is not.
Hating And Getting Along With Others
Hating also has a social purpose. It is a tool used to teach us what is socially acceptable behavior and what is not. As children, we experience the revulsion of others to varying degrees when we act in a way that is not approved. Those experiences are often combined with rewards and punishments to direct our behavior in a certain way. Unfortunately, they can cause us to suppress important and valuable parts of ourselves. Two common forms of self-rejection are crying in boys and intelligence in girls. When we suppress the good in ourselves to be accepted and survive, which is necessary to some degree for all of us, we often begin hating ourselves. Our identities have been formed around acceptance, which means giving up our true self to get along with others.
Hate also extends to attitudes. Because it can be self-protective, it is sometimes used at a group level to insulate people from perceived threats to survival. This is where hate turns into group prejudice. No longer a tool to identify what is healthy or unhealthy group identity becomes a codified set of attributes that support the identity and experience of group members. Violating these codes means you can be ostracized from a group even permanently. Hate can go even further. Cultural narratives define what a culture works towards – its beliefs and goals. Not to go along can engender hate as can changing the narrative.
How Hate Harms
Unfortunately, hate can be used to manipulate us and others. The fear of being hated, the fear of being left out or blamed, all of these manifestations of hate can influence our choices.
Hate has some additional destructive aspects. It can
- shut down social discourse by making people feel unwelcome. Keeping social space healthy (non-toxic) is necessary for people to be able to listen to each other constructively.
- reduces the motivation of others to engage and participate in the social space. It is a way of marginalizing others by raising the stakes of engagement. If you are afraid for your safety it is hard to want to participate with others in life.
- raise living costs as people try to meet the demands of inclusion. What happens when one cannot afford it?
Benefits And Disadvantages of Hate
Hate can help us understand ourselves better but can also be used to create distance from others. It can be used to increase empathy or reduce it. Hating can be used to establish social norms and demand certain behaviors – both constructive and destructive. It can act as a barrier to social mobility, as a tool of social ranking. At its best, it can inform us about what is in our best interest. At its worst, it creates untold harm.