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Somebody hates me $5 worth

There is a website — one that is so stupid I feel embarrassed to even give it free publicity — called The idea behind the site is you pay them five bucks, write in the name of someone you hate, and the website writes to the person telling them that there is someone who hates them.

I got one of those hate mails today, meaning that someone hates me enough to be willing to pay $5 to have me receive such an email.

It is an interesting product they are providing from an economic perspective. Does the person spending the $5 get utility from the act of declaring (albeit completely anonymously) their hatred? Or does the utility come from the (real or imagined) pain on the part of the recipient when he or she discovers the depth of another’s hatred?

For someone who actively hates me, the only source of satisfaction would be the first channel. I already gets loads of hatred coming my way every day — hatred that is far more vicious than this whimsical email I received after they spent $5. Indeed, the fact that the person who hates me identified me as Steve Levitt from California (where I lived only briefly while visiting Stanford a number of years ago) actually gave me a good chuckle.

It got me thinking. Maybe the website would be well served to allow the hater to make a payment greater than $5. By paying $50 to demonstrate their hatred, and relaying that information to the hated person, it could really send the message. Perhaps, though, haters prefer to send 10 separate $5 messages to create the impression that everyone hates you a little, rather than one person hates you a lot.

What saddens me about the website is that where it could really have some bite is for some innocent teenager who is singled out for hatred by his or her peers. For a person who only gets a few emails a day to begin with, receiving 10 or 12 emails saying that anonymous people hate you might be pretty discouraging.

The good news is that apparently not many people feel enough hatred to want to spend $5 to make that hatred known. The current list of the 10 most hated people includes some well known names (I’ve omitted the people I have never heard of, for fear they are the innocent teens I talked about in the preceding paragraph). Here is the list, with the number of hatreds towards each person in parentheses:

George Bush (7)

Hillary Clinton (3)

Oprah Winfrey (3)

Gloria Steinem (3)

Barbara Boxer (2)

So even with all the people who hate George Bush, only seven people have been willing to pony up the $5! To make the top 10 list, you only need two people to hate you. That shouldn’t be hard for me. I’m already halfway there.