Tuesday, 14 April 2015

[ hate-reading and the art of driving yourself nuts ]

Some of you have heard of this, but for those of you that haven't, hate-reading is pretty much what it sounds like. You actively go looking for material that will piss you off, make you depressed, or a combination of the two, usually online. The next step is to share this information with friends, family, and co-workers in order to get a group-hate on and spread the toxicity.

Hate-reading can take many forms, such as news stories, articles or social commentary pieces, blog posts, status updates, and tweets. The more insidious types of hate-reading include, but are not limited to, looking for related articles to the original piece, following people you disapprove of or disagree with, or Googling the key words of your current irritant.

Personally, I have unhealthily indulged in all of the above at one time or another. News articles about Julien Blanc, Twitter posts by mouthy journo's, checking on an ex's facebook page, watching Tony Abbott or Kristina Keneally do interviews, browsing LinkedIn for old workmates who I didn't get along with. The list goes on.

Hate-reading is like scratching the scab until the wound reopens and you're bleeding onto the carpet. No good can come of it.

Occasionally it can be amusing; I recently got told by a co-worker that they think the moon landing was faked. I'm pretty sure it wasn't, but it's always fun to let someone talk for so long that you suddenly become doubtful and convinced they might be right (not really).

So I went looking for evidence that what they were saying might have some basis in fact. It didn't. Forty minutes and two coffees later, all I'd found was endless crap about lighting effects and shadows, and I was high as a kite and twitchy from too much caffeine.

Once you jump on the hate-reading train it can be hard to get off. Boredom at work is a high risk factor. So is emotional stress, tiredness, hunger, and misplaced indignation. Have I mentioned boredom at work? Watch out, you might not know you're hate-reading until you've told Betty in Accounts how much Steve Price's views on, well, pretty much anything, get your goat.

Let's not confuse hate reading with actually reading the news; current events and the state of the nation are certainly important things to know day-to-day. As someone who doesn't read the news (I get mine from friends, family and social media - yes, I'm aware of the irony, shut up), I tend to glance over the byline on the front page or online and see what takes my interest. This can leads to all sorts of issues, but one click is all it takes to change that.

Why then so I feel the need to find out about Alyssa Milano getting her breast-milk confiscated at an airport? Do I actually care the Ben Cousins has gone to court again (surprise, surprise)? Endless. Bloody. Articles. On Jeremy Clarkson getting fired. Or not fired, but suspended. Then actually fired. Notice how he actually looks pretty amused in most of the photos. What's that about?


There's workplace hate-reading too, which is sneaky and sometimes unavoidable. Reading emails from colleagues, suppliers, corporate partners, or anyone else for that matter, at 4.38pm on any day ending in y is a bad idea.

If your Spidey-sense starts to tingle within the first 2 or 3 lines, STOP READING. There are requests that need immediate attention, and for those, well, que sera, sera. Just roll with it and get those ones sorted without thinking too hard.

For the ones that state dumb assumptions before actual questions, STOP READING. With the ones that begin with ''Sorry for the confusion, I see now your previous email did actually say...", STOP READING. If someone hasn't been considerate and professional enough to pay attention the first time, you sure as hell don't need to stress yourself out about doing it straight away.

And finally, if the email has the words ''the deadline is xxx'' followed by ''Thanks!! / Heaps appreciated! / You're the best!" and/or a smiley face, FOR THE LOVE OF THE GODS, STOP. BLOODY. READING.

There is no deadline that that amount of joviality is called for. Someone has basically left everything to the very last minute and now expects you to save their sorry ass by using flattery. Don't do it. A problem shared is a problem halved and all that - but not at the last minute when you have your own deadlines.

The lesson here is obvious; while you were reading about how the iPhone 6 bends in certain conditions (fail Apple, fail journalists, fail reader), you missed out on finding out that Sir Ian McKellen might play Cogsworth in the remake of Beauty and the Beast. 

After reading 4 articles about the leak of the new season of Game of Thrones (seriously folks - the link to the downloads isn't in the articles, you know that right?), you missed out on Hilary Clinton's announcement to run for President of the United States (love her or hate her, she gets big points for going for it). 

And while you were busy hoovering up the story about some idiot who did a nudey run and went to court for it (was he eating a burrito and playing a banjo? No? Then not interested), you missed out on the fact that White Bay Power Station at Rozelle, near the end of the ANZAC Bridge, got opened to the public to see all it's history before it gets redeveloped. 

Get off the hate-reading bandwagon, my friends. Life is too short to waste on fuckwittery.