“Hate-reading”, when you follow someone you really don’t like on Facebook or other social media, is being called the newest thing to let us gloat over others’ phoniness and narcissism. But, really, it’s only the latest way to do this. I know people who have made this kind of reconnaissance a lifetime mission.
Maybe you’re guilty of trolling the Facebook page of your ex, so you can enjoy the fact that he doesn’t seem all that happy (Not me, of course. I’m totally balanced.). Or maybe you’ve even friend-ed that bitch who stole your man years ago (and, stupidly, she thinks you’ve forgiven her). But think back to the days of answering machines (and before caller ID). How many of you called your boyfriend’s number, after a big fight, to see if he’s changed his message to subtly indicate he’s on the path to freedom? How often did you drive past someone’s house to see who was parked in the driveway?
Not only did we hate-listen or hate-watch back then; some of us were victims – and we knew it. I was. But, thanks to a mutual friend (who ratted out the ex-friend who was hate-watching me), I knew. When answering machine messages were simple to change and (I thought) a reflection of who I was, I frequently changed my message, using various voices and occasionally tricking people into thinking they were talking to me when it was really the machine. You may have even fallen for it on occasion – and cursed me out. Or laughed. But Nancy, who hated me for “stealing” someone who had never been her boyfriend (and who she assured me, was no longer the subject of her ardor) wanted to trash talk me and apparently thought that making fun of my messages did the trick. She and her two sisters would call my apartment so that the three of them could cackle over my stupid messages. But she went too far, sharing this hate-listening with someone who didn’t share their animosity.
What could I do, you ask? Well, as it happens, quite a lot.
The next time Miss A_____ and her sisters dialed up my number, they were in for a big surprise. Because, knowing they couldn’t admit to their “hate-dialing” without looking stupid and spiteful, I recorded a special greeting on my answering machine, just for them. The message started with a typical British-servant voice, telling the caller I was “unavailable to chat”. Then it quickly veered into “. . .and, if this is one of the Dog Sisters. . . woof, woof, woof, woof.”
I don’t know if they continued their hate-dialing. But I’m guessing not.