13 August, 2012  |   15 Comments

Flank Biting and the Hate Read

I don't like horses

Ah, the hate-read.
I can think of three of those internet web sites right now, sites that regardless of the content, I feel worse after visiting. Sites that either leave me feeling disheartened about my life or irritated by the blogger’s obliviousness or are just even hate sites themselves.

Where I’d been good about avoiding hate-reading in the past, bad habits had started to sneak back in until it seemed like I couldn’t stop clicking.

And then I was listening to an interview with the author of a book called Zoobiquity: What Animals Can Teach Us About Health and the Science of Healing.

The premise: Humans are animals just like all the rest of the animals. We have not yet found any health issues a human has the animal world doesn’t have, and that we can learn from that.

Pretty cool, right?
Like even dinosaurs had cancer and koalas get chlamydia.

In the interview, the author talked about self-harming. She was surprised that self-harming wasn’t unique to only humans. It’s something all kinds of animals do. Parrots over groom by pulling out their feathers. Even horses can bite their own flanks.

What veterinarians had learned is that there are three factors that predicate self-mutilation; stress, boredom and isolation.

(I love the fact that one of the remedies for flank biting is to put a chicken in the stable with the horse? It makes sense, relieving the isolation. But it’s also wildly adorable.)

Anyway, stress, boredom and isolation.

And I’ll be damned if that’s not the state my brain is in during most of my internet reading. Vaguely bored, vaguely stressed, and well, alone.

So, when I looked at hate-reading sites as a form of self-mutilation, it helped me reign it in.
Self-brain-mutilation just sounds pathological.

It’s like cutting.
On my brain.

Do you hate-read?

(And good Lord, please don’t tell me who you hate-read. My self-control needs shoring up. Grin.)

15 thoughts on “Flank Biting and the Hate Read

  1. 1
    zan says:

    Oh dear. My secret shame. I do this with one person/site, and every time I come across one of her posts in my feeds I find myself rolling my eyes and occasionally shouting “NO” at the screen. To be honest though? I think I keep her there to remind me of what I don’t want to be like, and I think sometimes those reminders are okay to have too.

  2. 2
    Jenn says:

    I definitly do – most of mine is from Facebook. The obvious “I’m not doing this well enough compared to so and so” comes out for me. My goal is to limit reading it because it does make me feel worse.

  3. 3

    I don’t. I can’t. I certainly used to but it takes up far too much energy. Oh, the internet.

  4. 4
    Ally Bean says:

    I’ve never heard this term before, but I am guilty of doing it occasionally. Like zan, I read to remind myself to always be true to myself. Still, it’s probably not a great thing for me to do, huh?

  5. 5

    I know for a fact that my personal blog (back when it was still public) had at least one very dedicated hate-reader. In many ways, she was my most dedicated & faithful reader, there year in and year out.

    As for me, my only hate read is totally meta: a blog dedicated to hate-reads. Every time I read it, I get SO FREAKING MAD at this community of people who are so deeply committed to bitching about the bloggers they hate. So much time, wasted.

  6. 6
    Frelle says:

    I’m glad you addressed this. I did more “hate-read”ing back in the era when people used message boards and forums with threads of discussion. It was like a train wreck, I remember very clearly. Fascinating and time sucking. I appreciate your insight about the human and animal condition, too. So glad I’m following you now!

  7. 7
    Kristin says:

    This is great. Never thought of it this way, but now I realize I do a lot of this. And even when it’s not “hate-reading,” just wasting tons of time reading mind-numbing crap on the internet is a way of flogging yourself. And yes, bored, stressed, alone–those are exactly the conditions. Thanks for helping me think about this in a new way.

  8. 8
    kathy b says:

    OH no I never hate read..Life is way too short.
    πŸ™‚ My dear beloved deaf Cat Radar, pulled his fur out when he had inoperable kidney stones…. My sister is a vet and said when animals hurt themselves it is often due to pain….we had to put him down. I have (we have) fantastic memories of this all white beauty with amazing blue eyes.

    Love your posts!
    Im over at irisheyesknitters.blogspot.com
    you are welcome to visit!

  9. 9
    Jaclyn says:

    I can definitely get stuck in a hate-read vortex sometimes. However, when I leave your site and mightygirl.com it’s definitely a love-read. I always come away feeling good about me just as I am right then πŸ™‚

  10. 10
    Lorri says:

    I own a horse that is a flank biter. I often just don’t know whether to keep him or put him down. He is young (5) and I rescued him as a 3 year old and have no history of his prior life. But, it’s a terrible thing to have to watch and some days are better thans other with him. I wish I knew exactly what to do with him because not only is it no fun for him (I am sure), but I worry that he is going to hurt himself in the incidents because he has before. If anyone knows somebody that is an “expert” on this, I would love to hear from them. I have had several vets look at him but most have no experience with it. I have compassion for anyone that is dealing with their beloved anmial with this behavior because it’s not easy….

    • 10.1
      Uli says:

      They say get him a companion since this is either stress or boredom related, and yes purchasing a chicken and putting it in his pen may work, it did work for my horse.

  11. 11

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