So there's a new dating app, called Hater, which allows people to bond over their pet hates.
We all have those things about, which our opinions are best summed up as meh. We don't love them - we don't hate them. And you don't really want to feel meh about someone you're dating, or want them to feel like that about you. Meh is the antithesis of passion and passion's meant to be there when you like someone or even fall in love.
Passion's a big component of hate. People even say 'I hate that with a passion' and eyes really light up when people talk about what (or whom) they hate. I mean, when you get a really animated conversation going among a couple, a group of friends or on a workplace tea break, you can probably put money on it that the chat has turned to mutual antipathy. The hatred of a certain US President... a certain colleague's annoying habits... despair at the Brexit vote... just how badly some celebrity is behaving. We're all about the hate. It's so exciting that it's almost an aphrodisiac... hence, I suppose, the Hate Date. The match on Hater which leads to the meet-up where, over coffee or a glass of wine, you get carried away with those mutual pet hates, your pupils dilated with that shared adrenaline surge. When you hate something or someone, maybe you kind of feel you're better than it or them; when that hatred is full of vitriol and shared, maybe you feel the other guy is great as well. You're both great. You're great together. Drinks turn into dinner, the rant promoting digestion as the juices flow, and then... who knows.
And reciting your pet hates can be really therapeutic in a stressful era. I'm going to try it. Here are just a handful of mine: how would I do on Hater?
Garlic. Foul-smelling, foul-breath-promoting, pungent and it makes me sick if even the tiniest little bit of it gets into what I eat. I mean, I can't buy M&S 'Dine in for Two' deals or eat in lots of restaurants or anything, as some people put this foul stuff in everything. I once had to send a honeycomb fudge sundae back because I could detect it: true story.
The 'white jeans and stilettos' look. Impractical and unattractive, this look shows up every bump of flesh and is purely for those who have nothing to do but lie around thinking about how they look. It should be bleached right out of the real world.
Eastenders. It's so miserable. I suppose it does serve a purpose- after a bad day, watch an episode of this and you're instantly reassured that you're not that badly off after all. But seriously - how do so many thousand people follow a soap that basically involves balding meatheads and their bottle-blonde attachées running from one scene to the next, screeching the immortal phrase 'Woss goin' on!' at the top of their voices?
Smug people. They probably are, let's face it, better than me. Holier than thou. But that's no excuse for walking around with that smug look - one example being the Baby On Board car sticker, subtext 'look at me - normal, functional, fertile. You deserve to be in a car crash - I don't. Because I'm great.' Or the smug assistant in the trendy shop who looks you up and down as if to say 'Oh dear God. What are you doing here? You're much too old. Way too dull. Just not our target customer at all.'
I could go on... and on, and on. But swiping 'hate' even on these very few things is quite cathartic. I can imagine the 'click' as my opinions coincided with those of a stranger.
But what if you (or something about you) turns out to be someone else's pet hate? What catharsis then? As a teacher, I get genuinely upset about just how much some people really hate teachers: those articles in the Daily Mail and elsewhere about how lazy, feckless, under-qualified and over-demanding teachers are, with our long holidays, low pay and all the rest. The charge led at one point by Michael Gove. I get upset about how some people hate women who aren't (or can't be) mothers. And what about people and companies who say you're boring if you drink your coffee black and undisturbed, but who claim instead that interesting people drink pumpkin spiced snowball latte frappucinos with a day's worth of calories in triple cream, marshmallows and syrup added. I'm an Americano-drinking teacher with no children of my own: as Elizabeth Bennet put it, 'now, despise me if you dare...' I hate, therefore I must be hated: I suppose all's fair in love and Hater...
I'm married. I'm not going to be signing up for Hater, and anyway, I think dating apps would probably be a pet hate if I were single. The concept is interesting all the same. What does it say about our lives that how we bond, whether it's workplace chatter or the swiping of a dating app, is about what we hate? Just how stressful have things got? Just how much does hating turn us on?
Just how negative have we become?