Earlier this week, Caroline Flack was in the news after people mistook her pen lid for a rolled up bank note. As usual, people jumped at the opportunity to criticise her, laugh at her, and generally revel in bitching about a woman they hardly know.
There’s something about Caroline that people automatically love to hate. Viewers criticised her presenting skills during her time on X Factor, before she eventually left the role. The same happened during her time hosting Love Island, where she was called “unlikeable” and “sexist” after the final, with viewers begging for her to be “binned”. When she was onscreen people wanted her off, while others criticised her for not appearing enough. She literally cannot win.
And it’s not just in the media. I haven’t met one person who actually likes Caroline Flack. They’ll roll their eyes and laugh at things she posts, questioning why the hell she’s the new presenter of whatever show, but no one can really explain why they find her annoying.
Apart from her relationship with a 17-year-old Harry Styles, there’s not that much she’s actually done to make people dislike her. Maybe she’s said some things that irritate people a bit, but she’s never done anything particularly offensive.
I spoke to Consultant Clinical Psychologist Emma Citron, who believes that the Flack-hatred stems from people following the crowd. “It’s all to with herd psychology” she told me, “it seems like everyone has followed a bandwagon of hate, probably started on social media. It’s easy for one person to post a throwaway comment, with no real consequences.” Quickly it spreads, and soon everyone’s bonding over tweets about how much of an annoying bitch they think she is. “Posting stuff about her, and speaking about it with your friends makes people feel like part of the group rather than on the outside”, making it easier to hate her.
Maybe the hate began with One-Directioners fury after Carolines relationship with Harry Styles, which Emma says has a sexist element too.
She points out how her relationship choices would be different if Caroline were a man, “she’d be ‘sowing her wild oats’ instead of being a ‘child snatcher’, ‘slut’ or ‘a flirt’. Men are given a lot more slack generally by both men and women.”