Nerd Rage, Sports Fury, and Beyond: The Case for Recreational Hate

The feeling of anger and rage in the world feels like it’s been ramped up past 11 in recent years with no end in site. A version of Moore’s Law that’s built on a growing divide of emotions more that of computer intelligence. A lot of this is due to the double edge sword of the internet. The place where you can get enough cat videos to choke a small village is also where you can find a 10 page diatribe on why you are a bad person if you eat a carb.
People have been arguing view points, defending opinions, and speaking out for what they believe in for as long as there have been people.  Some of these have been very important to move society forward. Voting rights, abolishing slavery, ending of the Cold War. What I’m going to talk about here is none of these things.
“Stop liking things I hate! Stop hating things I like!” – the Internet 
I want to talk about the arguments and debates around all the things that don’t really matter. Nickleback sucks, subs are better than dubs, LeBraun is better than Jordan. Have a strong opinion on any of these or things like them? Great, strap in. This blogs’ for you.
Nothing seems to get a bigger reaction out of people than making a statement they disagree with or siding with an opposing opinion on trivial matters. People get so worked up that you didn’t like The Wire, choose to watch Game of Thrones over reading the books, or think Final Fantasy XIII is a terrible game (it is, but I’m not about to do a TED Talk about it).
I think we all just need to take a step back and breath before starting our next tweet with, “you know what…”.  Debating and arguing can be fun and I’m not saying we should stop this. We just need to set some boundaries and guidelines. We should enjoy a lively debate with others and not take every opposing view as a personal attack on who we are. We should feel free to speak up about something when we want and not fear death threats from anonymous faces online. And we should have an outlet for when we’re just mad so we don’t pour hot coffee on the next smiling person who walks by.
To help I propose a new term:
Recreational Hate, (verb): to dislike intensely for small controlled periods of time; feel antipathy or aversion towards someone or something for more non-serious reasons during times that are not of a more serious nature; “I recreationally hate the Duke Blue Devils, but Coach K is a good guy.”
Ancient games, sports, and things like the 80’s pro wrestling use to be used as an outlet for such recreational hate.  People would go to cheer on the good guys and boo the bad guys. This was a great way to get this build up angry energy out of your system so we would be more civilized with each other in real life and about important things. Get all that energy out so that the more pressing matters of the day can be looked upon with a clearer head.
Sure, I’ve watched the Green Bay Packers play and wish Aaron Rodgers would get attacked by wolverines with chainsaws for arms that shot bees out of their mouths. I don’t really want this to happen to him (I’ve actually heard he’s a really nice guy) but during the game this is a pretty normal thing to say.  But more and more these days people bring this aggression with them after the game. They associate themselves with this anger and have trouble separating the two after this recreational ‘play date’ is over. This is especially present online. From Ghostbusters remakes to Call of Duty in-game chat we as society need to chill the fuck out about stuff that doesn’t really matter. We need to stop ingraining what we like so deep into our identities or forcing our opinions on others without first looking at how silly our own stances are. I mean come on dude, it’s just a game.
Stepping around the psychology of why people think it’s okay to make hate for frivolous things part of their identity (because that would be a book by itself that I am in no way qualified to write) let’s talk about how to possibly fix it. Because sometimes it only takes a small shift in our collective mindset as a culture to make a big change.
Keep hating and arguing and debating fiercely. I mean really ramp it up. Just do it for only set periods of time, over things that don’t really matter, and then let it go. No matter what.
This works for everything across the board:
  • Nerd arguments – playing video game, arguing who’s the best Batman, yelling at each other about what is the most popular anime series ever
  • Sports arguments – Yelling at your rival team, calls made by the refs, hating on the designated hitter rule
  • Personal arguments – Not hanging up shirts a certain way, chewing loudly, not walking the dog right after you get home
  • Professional arguments – Using excel when everyone else is on Google Sheets, having a weird cat picture as part of a company e-mail signature line, talking about a bad case of ’the Mondays’ every Monday morning 
Imagine if you could could say something a little off kilter, argumentative, or even down right mean (solely for entertainment purposes) to someone and know they would be cool with it afterwards since whatever discussion or monolog that was laid down wasn’t coming from a place of malice or ill intent. Sick burns, put downs, stupid inaccurate statements. None of it would matter a few minutes later.  Instant memory loss with a big bonus afterwards. That anger you where harboring, be it on the topic or more than likely something completely different, is gone. Drifted away on some cathartic cloud, never to be seen again. Also in the case when you say something that crossed the line of recreational hate the other party could let you know this without any fear of an angry retort or retribution on your end. This would lead to better communication and closer more open relationships with more people. And isn’t that what life is really about?
“If you’re dumb, surround yourself with smart people. If you’re smart, surround yourself with smart people who disagree with you.” – Issac Jaffe, Sports Night
That’s one of the larger upsides to recreational hate.  All the anger we feel about stupid stuff can be taken out in this way with no one needing to get hurt in the process. An eye for an eye, but you are not playing with real eyes. Right now when people are mad and want to take it out on someone they tend to leave a trail of angry people in their wake. Anger spreads and boy is it a vicious cycle.  Imagine reading Youtube comments knowing that all the angry comments where 100% BS.  Maybe theres even post-posts where people after getting their anger out share what they truly feel or what they are going through.
Commenter: “This sucks, you suck, your mom sucks, and I hope you all burn in hell for this shitty video!!!1!
Commenter: “Feeling better, thanks for letting me get that out. Been a rough day. Dog got sick and worried if he’ll get better soon.”
Video poster: “Sorry to hear that dude, hope things get better!”
Commenter: “Thanks, me too. Like your videos! ;)”
Video poster: “lol, soooo not happening. ;P”
If this could be the world we live in I welcome it. I want to find a way to make this happen. There will always be anger and hatred, but if we can focus it more towards things that don’t really matter and people know it’s just us getting some recreational hate out we would all be so much better. Both to give and receive.
It’s booing the opposing team for 3 hours and then everyone goes out for a beer.
It’s talking shit during e-league night and then trading game tips afterwards.
It’s the first part of Fight Club, before things get out of hand.
I grew up in New England and the closer you were to someone the worse things you would call them. It was a sign of trust and closeness since if you said a tenth of that to someone else you could do some real damage (as well as probably get punched in the face). How do we get some of this into other peoples lives?
Arguing and debating should be fun. Rap battles get it, so should we.  I want to go back to fights about what color a dress is.  If there is some way to get the word out to the angry masses about using recreational hate instead of real hate I think we could make some big waves. Create recreational hate zones, pre and post statements with saying it’s recreational hate (like saying “bless your heart” but with less sass), or start using the hashtag #RecHate. I don’t know but I think it’s worth exploring.
Post Script:
A final quick note on the elephants in the room here: politics and religion. If we can get our heads & hearts around the above items first then let’s go after these next.  My only piece of advice here is to our orange Creamsicle in Chief that so far has made a political career of hate and fear:  
“Never pick a fight with people who buy ink by the barrel” – Mark Twain