America’s Most Dangerous Drug.

Hate is a drug. A beautiful one for some. A metabolic elixir with a side of adrenaline. Hate makes us the server and the served, the dealer and the junkie, the bartender and the alcoholic. Hate is active, and fuels us with the intensity of first love but with the ability to kick in by simply losing a parking spot, being cut off at rush hour, or reading an opposing tweet.

People come alive on hate. It shakes them out of a routine existence. It allows them to be irrational, territorial, barbaric, without conscious or consequence. With hate they forget the drudgery of the world. The insurance payments, the trip to the market, the laundry. It’s a de-evolutionary mindset that satisfies the lizard brain. But, It doesn’t numb it like some drugs. It ignites it, with a single clarity and purpose in a complicated world that oftentimes can feel without.

Love may make the world go round, but hate keeps it spinning.

I’m not above it all. Not instinctually. I love hate as much as anyone else. And as I began to get addicted to hate, I realized that I needed to stop. I would look for the moments to incite hate, much like the hunter looks for prey. I waited for a car to pull out in front of me so I could lay on the horn. I wanted a someone to try to take my lane advantage on the 405, in the store line, at a restaurant, at a ball game. I wanted that moment so I could react to it. I needed to be prepared, but in fact, I was preparing for something that rarely came.

Hate is not something we can simply put away. No one can. It can only be managed. Like a Jehovah witness at your door, we need to acknowledge, take that pamphlet and politely move on. Hate flows through you fast. Faster than your mind can react out of it. That is purpose built, because hate needs to be swift, or else it will lose. It is the fight or fight syndrome, and losing control can be so satisfying in a world trying to control everything about us.

How powerful is hate? It made a President, took down a young and brash pharma exec and is the mechanic that built Twitter. Hate is sex to the celibate or steak to the vegan. It has a social distribution faster than anything known to the world. Hate tears us apart, but hate brings us together, “I like you because we hate the same things.” Hate is a dark passion, far more complex than love, and lives in a place many entertain, but few understand.

Hate is not Republican or Democrat, straight or gay, female or male, Muslim or Christian. Hate is all. Hate is Antifa and Trumpers. Young and Old. Hate needs a glimmer of justification to continue, so it rationalizes its choices, and hopes we will fall in. And many times, we do.

And when the moment is there. That fetishized ritual in a parking lot, carpool lane, hate takes over. It wants us to do its bidding. To raise the middle finger in traffic, to scream at someone for typing in their atm pin too slow, to shoot a man in front of his children for challenging us on the freeway. Lucky for us, hate is like the Jehovah at our front door, it leaves as quickly as it came.

Hate is a cancer. It does nothing for us evolutionary. Fear keeps us vigilant, happiness keeps our stress down, but hate just makes us hate. It draws sharpie lines on maps, victimizes the homeless and puts people screaming at each other on opposing sides of gay marriage or immigration.

So how do we fight that beautiful urge to hate something? I could say kindness, but most would laugh. So the best we can manage in that state is to extend the time between stimulus and response.

Stick something there. A thought, an action. A smile. A nose pick. Any ritual that will slow hate and allow reason to catch up and keep hate at bay. Reason is the easiest way to slow the process down. Do I want to go to jail? Is this worth a lawsuit? We need to incentivize our ID and trick our mind into slowing down, and allowing our better sense to catch up.

Some can’t see beyond hate. And hate allows them to make bolder decisions with unthought risk. They hate Mexicans for the border, or Muslims for 9/11. They hate African Americans for the drug epidemic, or gays for ruining the sanctity of marriage. They hate women for #metoo, or environmentalists for killing business. Every group has a dark association, and they are stuck together like velcro by the words of our President. And the opposing side hates him for doing it, and his followers for saying it. Everyone is shooting up on hate, eyes rolling back as they seethe in the joy of that reaction. We indulge our darkness, with blood-plunged hate needles scattered around our computers.

Hate is a drug. One that keeps us from asking questions. It simplifies the complex into a soundbyte. Fake News. Make America Great Again. Border Security. But hate here is implicit. An association, hidden below the surface. One that emboldens people who share that view to reach underwater, to move the needle outside of polite society. As much as you may or may not like our president, he is a master at the brand of hate. And it works.

I know people who can only come alive with hate. And I have removed them from my feeds and my life. It isn’t political. It isn’t Republican or Democrat. It’s really just about hate, on both sides. The lies, the bots, the savagery being passed around on social media. Hate travels further and more widely than love. And our confirmation bias makes us feel like we are right in how we are feeling. So we pass hate on, and validate our beliefs.

Sadly, I think hate has become a way of life for us, and toxic platforms like Twitter have enabled it, on all sides. And politicians have made it accessible, and ok. There is no good in hate, as it simultaneously attacks the host as well as the target. It ruins life for all of us, yet, most don’t see or understand it’s fault.

So, take some time to fight hate. Don’t allow it to change who you are. Travel, talk to people, find middle ground and don’t react out of pure hate. Take a moment and let other, more beneficial feelings catch up, and push hate back to the dark place that it came from.

Co-Founder Cast Iron LA agency. Webby Judge. Satirist. Contributor to FastToCreate, AdWeek, HuffPo, Digiday and others. I fight fire with humor. www.castiron.la

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