1. A large proportion of online news and opinion journalism now deliberately courts outrage. Hate-clicks are still clicks; angry page-views still count as pages viewed. “This tastes awful — try it.”

2. The most successful such clickbait — and probably three-quarters of the product of corporate media qualifies as “clickbait” in this sense — is able to split the difference, attracting both sharing and clicking motivated by earnest endorsement and hate-attention.

3. Slipshod thinking and bad writing are not just products of editorial laziness: they’re actively incentivized by this media environment. A stupid or half-assed expression of a controversial opinion is better for hate-reading than a well-thought-out one: it can garner anger even from those who agree with its basic stance. Readers enjoy playing editor: it yields a pleasurable, motivating sense of superiority to correct a bad article.

4. This is why dumb people are massively popular op-ed writers; this is why dumb people have thousands of Twitter followers. When you compulsively correct their stupidity, when you share their latest broadside in order to argue about it, you’re the audience. Here as often elsewhere, the disavowal is built into the ideology, part of the psychology it’s premised on; it’s a case of “they know exactly what they’re doing, but they do it anyway.”

5. As with other compulsions, then, perhaps the only way out of hate-reading is decathexis from the underlying impulse. It requires an elective mental hygiene on the level of media consumption, a deliberate avoidance of the situation that one knows will lead to the unwanted behavior. As the doctor says in the joke: don’t do that, then.