By Katy Waldman
Hating movies, earworms, conventions of grammar, clothing brands, diet fads - you get the twinkle of pleasure without the glob of guilt, or the cold brush of fear. A Coldplay song doesn't know you hate it.
Not so, hating people. You must commit to the idea that the animosity you harbor runs toward another human being. Hating people is the final frontier of hate, the enmity big leagues, and crossing it feels like stepping away from the primordial bonfire into a gust of Ice Age wind.
This old turn to the wilderness becomes new again with Hate With Friends, a Facebook tool by Chris Baker, who also co-created Unbaby.me. Sign into www.hatewithfriends.com through your Facebook account and you'll be presented with all of your Friends in alphabetical order - and below each profile picture, a dark pink button that says, HATE HER or HATE HIM.
From here, with any given Friend, three scenarios are possible. You can choose not to HATE HER and go chase butterflies or something. You can HATE HER, at which time the dark pink button will flip to spell out DON'T HATE HER, because hostility is a protean thing and sometimes changes its mind, and for the duration of your HATING she will live under a separate tab called WHO I HATE. In scenario three, you HATE HER, the button flips, she goes under the tab, and you get a notification. The notification says, "[Friend] Hates You Too!" and gives you the options of Sending Her a Gift (measles?) and Unfriending Her. And then she also goes under another tab called WHO HATES ME TOO, and then you cry.
The difference between scenarios two and three is, of course, that the disgust is reciprocal: Hate With Friends will tell you about someone's antipathy for you only if it knows you antipathize them back. You might recognize this Prisoner's Dilemma-type setup from Baker's inspiration, Bang With Friends (now known as Down), in which Facebook connections who want to hook up with each other are alerted to this fact, while unrequited longings flicker away in secrecy.
I forced a bunch of my colleagues to download Hate With Friends, Hated them all, logged off the site, and waited. Soon the emails came pouring in:
"Katy Waldman, you and Ryan Vogt both hate each other. Go to http://hatewithfriends.com to update who you hate or to disable these notifications."
(One co-worker couldn't get the tool to work: "It won't let me hate anyone!!" she wrote. "Can I hate Hate With Friends?")
But while the strategy of reviling everyone in your network to see who reviles you back has a certain foxy logic, I cannot recommend it because 1. It makes you feel bad and 2. It dilutes the force of your hates. I unhated all my colleagues and resolved to start over, to make my rancor count.