WORK-LIFE BALANCE / NOV. 01, 2015
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The Most Hated Things on Earth (With Awesome Benefits)

There’s a lot of hate out there. Cruise the internet - even for just a minute or two - and you’ll come across some seething hatred against, well, everything. Read the comments after virtually any article, post, or video. There are trolls, haters, and cynics everywhere. Some hatred is justified, some is inexplicable, and some is just jealousy and pettiness masking indignation and hatred. As a species, we love to hate.

Socrates once said, “From the deepest desires often come the deadliest hate”, and that can likely be applied to a lot of it. We hate things we secretly want; we hate things we don’t understand, and we hate things that are popular. Does it make us “special” to hate the latest trend? Probably not, but that doesn’t stop people from trying.

We hate things that are different, new, old, similar, and just plain weird. For many, the list of things we hate is much longer than the list of things we love. But why so much hate? Researchers think it may have something to do with evolution (at least when considering racial tension and hatred).

Hatred abounds. But if something is (almost) universally hated, does that automatically make it bad? Not necessarily. We hate for a variety of reasons. Sometimes, the most hated things have surprising benefits. Stuff we don’t think about or notice because we’re so busy getting our hate on.

Haters gonna hate.

See Also: Willpower is Overrated - The Health Benefits of Being Lazy

1. Selfies

I’m just going to come out and say it: I hate selfies. And I’ve been known to take the occasional selfie, too. But every time I hold my phone at arm’s length and say cheese, I hate myself. A lot. There is literally no time when you need to take a selfie. Ever.

Seeing someone take a selfie fills me with a quiet rage. Am I alone in that? I don’t know. But the ubiquitousness of the modern selfie has plenty of people rolling their eyes. And don’t get me started on the selfie stick! Just take a normal photo...or even better, just experience life for real. Put the phone down and live, damn it! The world does not need to see you in front of the Eiffel Tower, or at the game making your duckface, or worst of all, standing in front of your bathroom mirror. There have even been studies to show that taking selfies can turn you into a narcissist. Stop it. Stop it right now.

Let’s all agree that selfies are hate-worthy.

But that hasn’t stopped some groups from using the abhorred selfie in some rather beneficial ways. Psychologists and therapists see and use selfies as a way for young people to express their feelings about themselves and their surroundings. Therapists can use selfies posted to social media as an in-road to discussion with otherwise quiet patients. They can ask questions about them, inquire about their mood when they took the photo, and develop both follow-up and treatment plans...all from cursed selfies.

Selfies can help someone better understand their own perceptions about themselves. And it doesn’t stop there. “Psychologically speaking, there may be some benefit to participating in sharing selfies because this practice is interwoven in our social culture and is a way to interact socially with others,” said Dr. Andrea Letamendi, a clinical psychologist at UCLA.  

So the next time you see some teenager taking a selfie, you’ll probably need to cut them some slack. They may be doing homework for their court-appointed therapist.

2. Vegans

The biggest benefit? More delicious meat for the rest of us! I kid, of course (even though it is true). Some vegans (but not all...I’ve met a few fantastic ones) see themselves as holier-than-thou and spend most of their time up on their soapbox (or high horse). Few things will immediately turn a group against you faster than loudly proclaiming “I’m a vegan” in a social setting. Suddenly, the host or hostess has to ensure that everything meets their strict dietary requirements, and everyone else is made to feel guilty about their medium-rare steak.

Dirty looks, snide comments, and a general looking-down-their-nose attitude is not uncommon. Vegans are often hated. The ones that go about their vegan business quietly don’t deserve the animosity, but as with any hated group, it’s the other ones - the preachy, condescending, never-shut-up-about-it “spokesperson” - that ruins it for them all.

We’ve all heard about the health benefits of a vegan or vegetarian diet. Some of it is contested, but most of it is probably true. It takes a lot more time and effort, but you can maintain a healthy diet if you cut meat and dairy out. But, quite frankly, many of us don’t want to. People go vegan for moral or ethical reasons, environmental concerns, allergies, cultural or religious requirements, or simple preference.

But here’s the thing: even if you eat like a carnivore morning, noon, and night, those vegans you despise so much are actually helping you and everyone else. How so? It’s simple numbers. While it’s difficult to find accurate numbers, random surveys and polls can provide a reasonable snapshot of the vegan/vegetarian communities around the world:

  • A 2015 poll by the Vancouver Humane Society found that roughly 8% of respondents were vegetarian or “nearly” vegetarian, and a full 25% said they were trying to reduce their consumption of meat.
  • A 2013 Public Policy Polling survey in the US found about 13% identified as either vegetarian or vegan.
  • 3-4% of Russians claim to be vegetarian.
  • In India, the number of vegetarians is estimated somewhere between 30-40% of the (very big) population.
  • 4-5% of Chinese consider themselves vegetarian.

Those numbers amount to hundreds of millions of people eating no or less meat and other animal products (dairy, eggs). And that’s good for you, me, and everyone else.

The cost and environmental strain associated with supplying meat and animal products is astronomical. Animals bred for consumption contribute to climate change (some studies suggest their emissions are greater than cars, planes, and other transportation combined), require vast swaths of land (30% of the planet’s ice-free land is currently used for either livestock, or growing food to feed livestock), consume a disproportionate amount of water (up to 9000 liters to produce one pound of beef), demand deforestation to meet the land requirements, make us prone to disease, and provide a convenient transportation system for harmful viruses and bacteria. The list is long.

In short, anything we can do as a species to eliminate those strains and costs is key to our long-term survival. Vegans, as much as some love to hate and ridicule them, do reduce the demand, even if only slightly. But, as the number of vegans grows, that strain will fall. So thank a vegan today.

3. Asparagus Pee

You know it. You hate it. The stench can only be described as “asparagus pee”. It smells like nothing else, even though it does have something in common with rotten eggs, onions, and garlic. The pungent aroma is caused by the sulphurous compound mercaptan when it’s broken down in your digestive system. The first time you go to the bathroom (or even the first few times) after eating asparagus will leave little doubt to you or anyone within “nose-shot” of what you had for dinner. Asparagus.

But hold your nose and keep at it. Asparagus is tremendously good for you. Not only is it packed full of nutrients like vitamins A, C, E, and K, chromium, and fibre, but it also seems to have some “superfood” attributes that we’re only just starting to recognize and understand. Asparagus is an excellent source of glutathione, and that breaks down carcinogens and other free radicals, so it might actually protect us against some types of cancer. It’s also high in antioxidants and could slow the aging process, and it may even fight against cognitive decline.

If you ask me, that’s all worth a little stinky pee. So grab this spring veggie when it’s in season, and stick a clothespin on your nose.

4. Popular Musicians

Popular musicians are a strange entity. Popular because so many people buy their albums and attend their concerts, but scorned by just as many for that very same reason. Some of us wouldn’t be caught dead listening to anything mainstream, or played on the radio, or appearing anywhere in a Top 100 chart.

And that’s okay. To each their own. Your taste in music is not my taste in music.

But here’s the thing you - as an “if it’s popular, it’s crap” convert - have to remember about the music industry. Those popular musicians that you hate so much make it possible for the indie, unknown bands to make a living, too.

Nickelback. Justin Bieber. Miley Cyrus. These musicians sell a crapload of records, and consistently sell out ginormous arenas around the world. They make a lot of money for their record labels, managers, and agents. Without them, no one would ever take a chance on those small, unknown, limited-appeal musicians that you love so much. They wouldn’t get record deals because the popular bands bring in the money that make it possible to produce other bands that everyone knows will only sell to a specific niche audience (i.e. tiny).

Hate them if you must, but Nickelback is at least partially responsible for your favourite band even having an album released and/or playing in a few tiny venues around the country. It’s a fact. We need popular musicians and bands. They’re the financial support that makes the whole thing work.

And, for what it’s worth, Nickelback donates a LOT of money to charity. Just saying.

See Also: 7 Health Benefits of Fruit Juices

Haters gonna hate. It’s part of the job description. But just because you, or that guy, or that girl, or everyone hates something, doesn’t mean it doesn’t have its uses. Stinky pee? Yeah, but it could protect you from cancer and delay or prevent cognitive decline. Good trade. Yet another Justin Bieber song on every radio station, 24/7? Yeah, but he makes it possible for your local guys to do what they love, too.

Hate if you want. But at least secretly respect, too. It’s only fair.

Anything you’d add to the list? What else is derided, mocked, and hated by most, but provides some intriguing benefits? Leave your additions in the comments below...

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