Occasionally I find myself drawn to people I loathe and I seem to get some masochistic pleasure out of loathing them.
I suspect I am not alone in this - why else would so many people follow the professional media trolls who fill the columns of newspapers? Not being alone in this unsavoury habit does not make it acceptable. It is a complete waste of time and energy. We get one life, and even if we get several, why waste them loathing people? A point that is far more pertinent is why waste them loathing people I don't know?
My most recent bête noire was Liz Jones, a columnist for the Mail on Sunday. I don't buy or read The Mail. My mother buys it, and the day I most usually visit her is a Sunday. I can't bring myself to read the paper, but whilst mum is taking an age to get ready for us to go out, I will flick through one of its magazines. About two months ago, I started at the back of a magazine and found Ms Jones' column. It was dreadful; self-obsessed, completely lacking in self-awareness, trite and painfully boring. I couldn't believe someone not only got paid to write it, but also seemed to make a living out of just writing it. I was incensed. For the next few Sundays, I sought out her column the minute I arrived, working myself into self-righteous indignation as I read. I thought about writing a parody. I thought about writing a blog replying to each vacuous comment she made. Finally I thought about getting a life and instantly gave up my Liz Jones addiction. That is why she has that column, so people like me can enjoy hating her - even if only for a few weeks.
She is far from my first anti-crush. Twitter has introduced me to dozens of people I may never have encountered in sufficient measures to despise them as much as I did. For months I hated both Louise Mensch and Owen Jones simultaneously, due to the frequency with which their retweeted comments appeared on my Twitter feed. I would sometimes sink to searching one of their profiles, to feed my hatred. I started to think they were one person, imagining Mensch-Jones sat in a dark cave, tweeting like a demon, first in favour of the left then supporting the right, possessed of some freakish, Misfits-style superpower intent on irritating as many people as possible . It would be a truly crap superpower (admittedly not as crap as loathing strangers), but totally in keeping with Misfits. Even now that I am cured of this particular anti-crush, I occasionally resort to replying to a retweeted comment by Ms Mensch if it is sufficiently smug. Needless to say, she has never acknowledged these comments, exacerbating the futility of such loathing.
I tried to work out if there was anything my anti-crush collection had in common - Mensch; Jones, O.; Jones, E.; Bleakley; Vorderman; Blair; Ronaldo; Cowell; Ramsey; Oliver; to name but a few. I wonder if it is self-confidence; my lack of confidence loathing each one of them for their abundance of it? Is it the fact that for a while each one of them has been all over the media like a rash and I just got sick of them? I used to quite like Gordon Ramsey and Jamie Oliver, even Blair was OK for a short while in 1997. I suspect it is more that I have an addictive personality and I occasionally sink to being addicted to despising complete strangers for no good reason at all.
Surprisingly two people who are seemingly loathed by millions have escaped my addiction to stranger-loathing. One I find so devoid of any redeeming features I prefer to deny their existence. The other is Piers Morgan. I don't like him, I do frequently think he is complete arse, but I can't loathe him. Of late I have actually found myself warming to him. So many people are so completely vile about him, but he remains as chirpy and smug as ever. More to the point he remains as chirpy, smug and employed as ever. No matter how thick your skin, it has to occasionally hurt to have so many people be so vile about you, but Morgan never seems to show anything but self-confidence. As smug as he may be, I admire that and wish I possessed a fraction of his self-belief.