Why I Gave Up Hate-Watching

by Molly Kruse

Hate-watching movies and shows used to be my guilty pleasure. My best friend and I would sit down and mock cheesy Hallmark movies as if we were part of the cast of Mystery Science Theater 3000. Or after a long day, I would settle down (with or without company) to a rousing episode of a reality television show and gleefully watch the characters make what I deemed horrible life choices. If you were to ask me what kinds of shows I watched, these of course wouldn’t make the list, because I wasn’t watching them “seriously.” I was just there to laugh at them.

Certain people also used to be my guilty pleasure. They would say and do things I very much disagreed with—things that stood in direct opposition to my core values—but they were so funny. So I kept these people around for the entertainment value. If you asked me who my friends were, these individuals probably would not make the list, even though I spent a significant amount of time with them. Our relationships seldom ventured beyond the superficial. I simply considered them amusing background noise.

Over time, I came to realize this was not healthy.

I think the reason I hate-watched shows all those years was to make myself feel better about my own life. Often, the pleasure I extracted from these viewings took the form of “I’m so glad I’m not like that.” I would think, I’m so glad I’m not one of eighteen children and don’t have to wear skirts down to my ankles, or I’m so glad I’m not like that shallow person auditioning to be America’s next top model. The same went for the company I kept—at the end of the day, I could go back home and chuckle about their lives, which were obviously far more messed up than mine.

But why watch something because it’s awful? Why hang out with someone solely for shock value? Why do anything motivated by any emotion less than love?

These questions have prompted dramatic changes in the way I spend my time. Little by little, I am trying to cut hate-watching out of my life, not just of shows but also of people’s lives. And I’m finding that I am more and more in tune with what actually makes me happy. It is not stalking an ex’s Facebook with a friend and tearing his life to shreds with our wit. Or spending my time with people just to see what awful thing they’ll say next. Or watching things that don’t leave me inspired. In fact, I find these things ultimately deplete my energy and drain my joy.

I’m not saying that we should only spend our time with people we agree with, or only watch things that don’t challenge us. And I’m not saying that if you actually derive joy from watching Jersey Shore you should quit cold turkey. I’m just thinking out loud: what if we stopped comparing ourselves to people making dubious life choices, and instead to learned from people we think are amazing? What if we gave more of our precious mind real estate to things (and people) that inspired and uplifted us—that we were total nerds about? What if we put an end to hate watching once and for all?

Below is a quick list of everyday actions we can do…out of love. Feel free to add your own ideas in the comments section!

Things to do out of love:

  • Have a deep conversation with a close friend
  • Watch a documentary on something you are passionate about
  • Support a friend in something they’re good at: go to one of their concerts, or buy some of their art
  • Watch a movie that’s so good it makes you cry
  • Leave a kind comment on someone’s Instagram post
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