I came across a blog post today about a new term that has been coined: hate-watching. Without even reading the blog article, I immediately understood what this term meant in its typical context.
Doesn’t it accurately describe some of our so-called “reality” television programs nowadays and the pleasure that we derive from watching them? Some of these shows depict people at their most absurd and strange moments – realities that we don’t relate to at all, and further, never want to relate to. Yet we watch and derive pleasure from it… judging the people we are watching the whole time.
One aspect of this new term (or the “hate-” prefix in general) that is worth noting is that it relies on a very watered-down definition of “hate”. Hatred is a very serious thing (and sinful besides): anyone who engages in true hatred is in a sorry state indeed. This change in the meaning of “hate” has been taking place over a fairly long period of time; just think about how we have long used the word to talk about things we simply don’t like: “I hate going to the movies. It costs too much.” What you meant to say was, “I don’t like going to the movies…”
This change in the meaning of words (which is a normal process in any living language) is something that purists shun and conspiracy theorists fear. Somewhere in-between those two extremes we should find ourselves being a little cautious about uncritically adopting new phrases and terminology. For while the term “hate-watching” might not involve true hatred, it does possibly involve other sins: for example, judging. Or one of my personal favorites: recreational outrage. From the thrones in our living rooms we sit in judgment over the poor souls who foolishly expose their pathoses and neuroses for the whole world to see: “What an idiot!”, we think; “How could he be so stupid!?”; and so on.
While I do not ordinarily watch television, I am also not part of the “Kill Your TV” crowd; I just am rather chary of most television. We all need to think critically about the shows that we are watching and ask ourselves: Is this helping me get my poor soul to heaven? Is this good for me or for anyone else?
And God-forbid that we should ever “hate-watch” anything!