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.
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.”