As a matter of an unfortunate fact, hateful stuff would often ‘sell’ better. In recent years, abhorrence has seemed to be the new commodity in the online media and social media industry.
Previously, I’ve written about some of the benefits that you can enjoy if you want to learn to be patient. However, I forgot about one important question, which I would explore further this time, “Why do we human beings can be easily triggered by hatred?”
Based on a bunch of articles, journals in the field of psychology, and my own line of thought, I’ve found three answers. Let’s dive into them.
1. Friend-or-foe Paradigm
The truth is, humans tend to categorize themselves into certain groups. Whether we realize it or not, we identify ourselves and other people as part of cultural and social groups. Race and religion, for example, are two of the most identifiable groups.
This is inevitable since human beings have a psychological need to be a part of a community. But unfortunately, throughout the history of human beings, we have become so used to seeing these community groups as friends or foes.
We see other people with similarities as friends, and those with differences as foes – as if there are no other alternatives than those two options.
Because of our ego, we also see those people in our group as better and more genuine. On the contrary, for people who are in different group than ours, we tend to see them as worse or flawed.
Confirmation bias also plays a big role in this as we would be more inclined to sort out the facts that we want to believe as the truth.
Moreover, loyalty is a trait that has always been upheld since time immemorial. That’s why we feel satisfied or we think we have done the right thing when we show loyalty by defending our respective groups.
You can read this article from psychologytoday.com for a more detailed elaboration as to why this first aspect has an impact on our predisposition towards hatred.
2. Hatred is the Manifestation of Fear
If you already have a partner, or used to have one before, you must have experienced the feeling of being jealous. Jealousy is one of the examples of fear manifesting itself as hatred.
You fear that your partner will be taken by a third person, and thus you hate those who are close to your partner.
“In time we hate that which we often fear.”
― William Shakespeare, Antony and Cleopatra
Another example is what also happened in the US or other western countries. Most of the time, the hate towards immigrants started off as fear. People in those countries fear that the availability of jobs would become more limited because of immigrants.
They also fear that when the number of immigrant increases, their communities or groups will be excluded from many aspects, be it political, economic, social, cultural, etc.
Meanwhile, fear can be the biggest psychological motivation that humans have. This made fear an easy commodity to sell in religions, politics, to advertising concepts.
As for what causes fear, I suppose the main cause is the lack of self-confidence, lack of faith, or any other term that you want to use.
Take the fear of unemployment as an example. People who are in the middle to high management position are afraid that they can be replaced by their subordinates, while those with staff status are afraid of being fired.
If you know exactly how capable you are, how good your work is and how valuable you are to the company you work for, I guess you wouldn’t need to worry.
The same thing applies to the jealousy problem. I used to be jealous, too. I finally realized that I was jealous because I didn’t know who I was and what my partner wanted.
Nevertheless, because humans and times are always changing, we need to keep learning so that we can continue to understand who we are and what the situation demands.
3. Propensity to find a scapegoat
I’m sorry but this is the fact, whether we acknowledge it or not, we realize it or not, that we – including myself – have a tendency to find a scapegoat for bad things that happen to us.
Truth be told, in case you didn’t know, life is not easy. Life is bitter, life is unfair, and life is full of challenges.
Whoever the president is, whoever is around you, this fact will never change: that life will never be as easy as a walk in the park.
Oftentimes, it’s easier for us to blame the government, teachers, schools, movies, soap operas, games, parents, kids nowadays, and millions of other things for stuff that happen far from our ideals and expectation.
I don’t blame that since I personally still do it a lot, before I finally realized and asked myself: “What have I done that can change the situation, apart from blaming other people?”
Alas, blaming other people is far easier than self-contemplation – because our ego will always say that we are correct, while other people or groups are wrong.
I think those three answers are the proclivities of every human being, including you and myself. What’s different is, there are proclivities that we are aware of, and there are ones that are defined differently depending on each individual.
For example, honestly I still classify myself in accordance to certain groups, but not based on primordial identities such as race, religion, wealth, and political interest, but rather on each person’s willingness to learn.
How about you, then? Do you agree with me? What are some things that fuel your hatred?
“Hatred is like as long, dark shadow. Not even the person it falls upon knows where it comes from, in most cases. It is like a two-edged sword. When you cut the other person, you cut yourself. The more violently you hack at the other person, the more violently you hack at yourself. It can often be fatal. But it is not easy to dispose of. Please be careful, Mr. Okada. It is very dangerous. Once it has taken root in your heart, hatred is the most difficult think in the world to shake off.”
— Haruki Murakami, The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle
If you are interested, try to get into your own thoughts. I believe this is a cathartic process that will probably help mitigate much of the hate that is filling our heads. This is because I always believe that life is too short to be occupied by so much hate…
Jakarta, November 4, 2016
Translated by Glenn Kaonang