Move over, Tin­der: Find­ing love in a time of hate

It started out as a joke as part of a com­edy sketch, and ended up be­ing a widely-used dat­ing app built on the ha­tred peo­ple share for cer­tain things.

Finweek English Edition - - ON THE MONEY - Edi­to­rial@fin­week.co.za

three­giant pro­jec­tions of Rus­sian Pres­i­dent Vladimir Putin, ca­ress­ing a very preg­nant Don­ald Trump. This was the sight many New York City res­i­dents were greeted with on Valen­tine’s Day this year. The smug look on Trump’s face as he cra­dles his preg­nant belly, the gen­tle kiss on his shoul­der from Putin – the art­work was cer­tainly provoca­tive.

The stunt was the work of the peo­ple from new app Hater, which con­nects you with peo­ple who hate the same things. The il­lus­tra­tion of Trump and Putin ap­peared next to Hater’s up­side down heart logo and a hash­tag with the com­pany’s tagline, “Love Through Hate”.

Ac­cord­ing to Hater, nearly 80% of its users stated that they hate Trump.

Hater only launched on 8 Fe­bru­ary this year, but by Valen­tine’s Day al­ready had 200 000 users.

Fol­low­ing the Valen­tine’s Day prank, its users num­bers jumped to more than 300 000, but it also re­sulted in death threats for the app’s founder and CEO Bren­dan Alper. He says the “heated” po­lit­i­cal cli­mate in the US is cer­tainly help­ing drive the pop­u­lar­ity of the app.

Many great ideas start out as a joke, and Hater is the lat­est idea to make the jump from joke to pri­vate en­ter­prise. Alper says the idea for the app oc­curred to him about a year and a half ago, but he had no plans to fol­low through with it. Af­ter work­ing as a banker, he quit his job to pur­sue a ca­reer in writ­ing com­edy, and Hater started out life as one of his gags.

While still a banker, he had been work­ing on com­edy sketches two days a week, film­ing them and up­load­ing them on­line. Alper ex­plains that ev­ery­one he told the joke to had the same re­ac­tion; they thought the joke was very funny, but also be­lieved that Hater would have a mar­ket if it ac­tu­ally ex­isted.

When a new user joins Hater, they are shown a se­ries of top­ics that they can voice their opin­ion on by swip­ing to se­lect like, dis­like, love or hate.

The Hater al­go­rithms then give more weight to the things you dis­like or hate when try­ing to match you with other users.

Hater could ask you any­thing from how you feel about the lat­est re­al­ity-TV se­ries to how you feel about con­doms. Its team scours so­cial media look­ing for topic ideas that might be trend­ing, while Alper also car­ries around a note­book for scrib­bling down top­ics that peo­ple tell him they hate.

Cur­rent Hater top­ics in­clude Game of Thrones, danc­ing, avo­ca­dos, play­ing music dur­ing sex, abor­tion, cud­dling, clip­ping nails in public, bad WiFi, fe­do­ras, dad jokes, locker room talk and pa­tri­archy. It turns out so far the only thing that was uni­ver­sally loved was gua­camole...

Alper says a lot of peo­ple are turned off by the word “hate”, but the app is re­ally about find­ing com­mon ground be­tween peo­ple.

While I’m en­gaged to be mar­ried and not ex­actly look­ing for a dat­ing app, this whole idea got me con­tem­plat­ing my own Hater pro­file.

What do I hate?

Do I hate peo­ple who are late for ap­point­ments or I am just an­noyed by it?

I def­i­nitely hate it when peo­ple go back on their word.

I also hate it when busi­ness peo­ple use profit mar­gins as an ex­cuse to pay peo­ple slave wages.

I hate it when my Cell C cov­er­age is so bad at home that I have to stand in a cor­ner of my gar­den to make calls.

I hate it when peo­ple talk about “the media” as if we are one ho­moge­nous mass with the same val­ues.

I hate how racist and sex­ist so much of South Africa’s ad­ver­tis­ing in­dus­try ap­pears to be, based on the ad­ver­tise­ments they pro­duce.

I hate it when I see South African rugby teams run­ning out on the field hav­ing done the bare min­i­mum to­wards trans­form­ing the sport.

I hate it when trans­for­ma­tion is used as a tool to pro­tect eth­i­cally-chal­lenged and cor­rupt South Africans and I def­i­nitely hate how pa­tro­n­is­ing some white South Africans be­come when they talk about trans­for­ma­tion. Yet I am not about to sign up to Hater. Call me old-fash­ioned, but I still be­lieve that a re­la­tion­ship built out of a shared love will be stronger than one built out of shared hate.

But, as the au­thor James Bald­win wrote: “I imag­ine one of the rea­sons peo­ple cling to their hates so stub­bornly is be­cause they sense, once hate is gone, they will be forced to deal with pain.”

Or writ­ten an­other way by Chuck Palah­niuk: “When we don’t know who to hate, we hate our­selves.”

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