Why do people hate so much? You’ve got to love it when you find yourself asking kindergarten questions as a professional 20-something. Over the past few months, the concept of “hate” has been of interest to me, which is not at all to say that I personally feel more hateful. I’m thinking about hate in terms of how it appears in the world around me, and it almost always sprouts from at least one of three things: lack of exposure/education, indoctrination or fear of the unknown.

As it turns out, the kind of hate that I find most meaningless is the kind that sounds like, “Oh, I hate (X) music!” Now does someone truly hate a certain kind of music when they say something like that? I suppose it depends on how broad your definition of hate is. I would think that most people don’t outright hate a piece of media, but the casual use of the H word is still somewhat troubling to me. Allow me to rephrase the question I posed at the top: Why do we hate so willingly?

Different question, same answers. Lack of exposure or education, indoctrination or fear of the unknown. When it comes to media consumption, we do these things to ourselves. So many of us shut down certain styles and voices without ever really exploring what those styles or voices might mean.

On the topic of music genres, let’s say I don’t like country music, which is fairly accurate to my taste. That slight alteration from “hate” to “don’t like” makes a big difference. It implies a bit more thought was put into the comment, and also let’s other people know that my mind is malleable on the topic. For my own sake, I can more appropriately make the “I don’t like country music” comment because I’ve educated myself on and listened to that style. And just because I don’t like country music in its totality doesn’t mean I dislike every single country song in existence. When somebody puts on Johnny Cash or Kacey Musgraves, I gain a friend.

Simmering below is a hesitance to break from the familiar. I understand enjoying what you enjoy and sticking to it, but your comfortability often will come at the expense of your media knowledge. That’s all fine, but just don’t be stunned when your blind spots are revealed in conversation. It’s a good thing to know and feel a little about as much as you can, just as long as you don’t try to portray yourself as an expert.

What really binds hate and the reasons for it together is laziness. It’s so simple to blindly dislike something because that takes no effort. If you ever find yourself thinking “If you’ve heard/seen/listened to one, you’ve heard/seen/listened to them all,” you’re selling yourself and art way too short.

Now, not everyone can listen to every country music album, watch every horror movie or check out what’s happening on every TV station. You do indeed have to pick your spots in order to keep some sanity. But I do advise against painting a broad, hateful stroke over an entire section of media just because of your own time restraints or critical shortcomings. Chances are, there is something in every genre that you can get behind. If you haven’t found it yet, perhaps you need to be exposed to more of it while your mind is open and your fear is stripped. There’s a lot to be ticked off about in the world. Wasting your energy on actively and loudly ripping apart another person’s creation is a big waste of time and energy.