‘Love It or Hate It’ is literary sport, not a zero-sum game

by DGO Web Administrator

“Uh-uh-uh-uh! We don’t hate!”

I don’t know how many times I heard that phrase from my mom’s mouth growing up. I’d hear it whenever I would come home from school or in from outside playing or from the barbershop after receiving a fourth-grade assessment of a really bad haircut and exclaim that I hated my teacher, or a neighborhood kid, or a barber. You can dislike people within reason or dislike their actions, she’d say. But the line for Mom was at hate.

It’s ironic because of the feature I developed for this magazine over there to the right (unless you’re online, and then it’s just a search away) wherein every week we here at DGO square off loving and hating something, things like laundry or the desert, stout or celebrity culture. Ironic even more that I have developed a bit of a reputation among friends and strangers alike for hating more than I love. Once, a colleague told me that a friend had asked her just how angry of a person I was in real life.

I had a sneaking suspicion that I indeed “hated” more than I “loved,” so I did the math. Of the 59 “Love It or Hate Its” I’ve participated in, I have hated 34 times for a 58 percent record of hate.

Being such a “hateful” person, I thought I’d explain, considering that I think of myself as a generally positive, thoughtful and, most of the time, a downright jovial person. I also want to explain the feature and why, even when we’re “hating” things, it’s a valuable exercise in persuasive writing, critical thinking, and life itself. And I think it’s working, “LIHI,” being the thing in the magazine I get the most personal feedback on.

Yes, I’ve been putting “hate” in quotes for a reason, as anything I have “hated” for LIHI I don’t truly hate. Not entirely, at least. After all, I’ve “hated” the likes of “The ’80s,” “Poetry,” “Color,” Yer Mom,” and “Space,” when, in fact, I am a scientifically-curious, graphic-designing happy-child of the ’80s, occasional teacher of poetry who loves his mom to pieces.

Loving something for LIHI isn’t hard at all, and usually comes from an entirely genuine place, even if that love is a bit exaggerated. It’s easy to spew positivity, even if the subject is Jell-O or Facebook. Hating is a bit different. Hating in LIHI is more of a dislike or annoyance, and then, only in part. For instance, when I hated “hipsters” or “gear,” I was really hating the snobbiness I’ve experienced with both entities. For those two subjects, and any of the topics we’ve covered, I could have found plenty to love.

This is exactly what I love about LIHI, it being a vehicle to examine something critically, often with humor and tongue in cheek, sometimes with faux-outrage. The points we make in LIHI are often snippets of a larger issue, then magnified and amplified for their rhetorical value. LIHI is literary sport, and boy, can it be fun.

Constitutionally, I am positive and curious. But I’m also a part-skeptic, nay-saying contrarian. This is what makes life interesting to me, looking at something in its entirety and parsing out which characteristics or realities deserve gentle ridicule and which deserve celebration. Exploring ironies and contradictions within the same topic is not only fun, but necessary. The complexity of life is often found in the gray areas and seldom is anything entirely true or false, all good or all bad. And when we are convinced of a zero-sum approach to anything – taste, aesthetic, belief, faith – it sets us up for didactic, dismissive, judgmental, herd- or even cult-mentality. I find these concepts and practices easier to explore and exercise when the subject is “whales” or “candy corn.”

For now, I’ll part with this: May your 2017 be filled with authenticity, peace, curiosity, critical thinking, genuine understanding, and, most of all, love.

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