CONTENT WARNING: documentation of instances of extremely racist behaviour

“A hideous ecstasy of fear and vindictiveness, a desire to kill, to torture, to smash faces in with a sledge hammer, seemed to flow through the whole group of people like an electric current, turning one even against one’s will into a grimacing, screaming lunatic. And yet the rage that one felt was an abstract, undirected emotion which could be switched from one object to another like the flame of a blowlamp”

The two minute hate was introduced in Orwell’s 1984 as a means of quite literally controlling the emotional states of the INGSOC party members. For two minutes at a time, the employees of the Ministry of Truth sat in a room and watched a series of images associated with dissent and the enemies of the party. The whole experience was designed to trigger a wave of hatred in the attendees, a way for the party to exert control over their thoughts and emotions.

 

The two minute hate is a fascinating undertaking from the perspective of interaction design. It suggest a multi-sensory experience powerful enough to make to make an audience want to scream and throw things at the screen. It combines aspects of mob mentality, emotional coercion and an ideological element that would be difficult (but not impossible) to replicate in real life.

The term takes on a slightly different meaning in the context of news media. It becomes a useful metaphor for sensationalist journalistic practices that disproportionally scapegoat a single person or group. Outlets like Breitbart construct their stories in ways that manufacture outrage, then identify clear villains. They then direct the resulting reader indignation towards a target.

A good breakdown of how this specific form of misleading reporting is achieved was put down by the Youtuber Shaun:

 

Breitbart specifically is well known for this style of reporting. Their layout is extremely well-suited for the purpose, with their tabloid-like design and a focus on headlines, with the limited imagery poised to dominate the screen when used. As such, breitbart makes excellent use of images.

Two Minutes Hate as a Design Undertaking 1

Searching Breitbart for the term “hillary” currently shows over 64 thousand results.

This definition can easily be expanded to the practice of scapegoating a whole group – a movement or an ethnic minority. It is very common for the alt-right to rally against strawmen and phantom enemies, misinterpreted and misrepresented versions of movements and worldviews they attack. Scenes of social unrest and protests are often used as a visual metaphor for the ‘liberal chaos’. Take for example the propaganda video for the NRA:

 

Of course, the more extreme the outlet is in its rhetoric, the less subtle and more fascinating its use of the ‘two minutes hate’ becomes. Take The Daily Stormer’s ‘Race War’ section for example:

Two Minutes Hate as a Design Undertaking 3

I’ve grown somewhat desensitised to Daily Stormer’s antics by now but this is still pretty uncomfortable. This entire section is a regularly scheduled two minute hate against black people in general, using portraits and crude caricatures of black people with headlines attributing the people in the pictures with violent crimes to feed the racist rhetoric.

Regardless of how he metaphor is used, a two minutes hate is defined by its ability to exert control over its audience through negative emotional triggers. It is a subversion of Donald Nolan’s sunshine and rainbows understanding of emotional design. This makes it a great fit for the direction of the project, both thematically as a critique of alt-right media and as a design focus. By adapting the concept of a two minutes hate, the objective becomes aligned with the idea of creating discomfort.