Monday, February 15, 2016

Stop Hating on the Haters

We've all heard people talk about them on social media. They're despised, mocked, and treated like pariahs. Mention them, and you'll receive encouragement to avoid them at all costs, and not even bother with hearing them out. Look at artwork shared on Facebook or Twitter, and you'll probably see them lambasted. To teachers of the therapeutic, they are considered the vilest creatures alive.

I'm, of course, talking about the dreaded haters.

Granted, I've never really seen anyone who uses this term pause to define and explain it. I suppose most would imagine angry people sitting behind the anonymity of a keyboard, insulting and trolling others left and right with their arsenal of personal jabs and ad hominems; in this regard, I suppose the term is fitting enough. At the same time, I've noticed some uses of this term center around people who criticize your work, or point out the errors therein. Are you doing something wrong? Did they point it out? They must be a hater! Are you incorrect about something you've stated as fact? Did they point it out? They must be a hater! Could your work use improvement? Did they suggest that? They must be a dirty, low-down, good-for-nothing hater!

Authors and artists alike, let me give you one piece of advice: stop hating on the haters!

Why should you stop hating on the haters? Let me give you a few reasons...

First, you're being a hypocrite. You're becoming a hater yourself. It's like people who despise intolerance to such a level that they become intolerant bigots themselves. It's also like those people who respond to any criticism with "STOP JUDGING ME!", even though by definition they're starting to judge the other person. In this same vein, you're not helping anyone by being so vehement against the haters out there. You yourself are hating, just from a different direction.

Second, you're deluding yourself by placing all your critics into one collective group. Some people out there can be mean, yes. Some people out there just want to insult other people, yes. However, some people want to offer constructive criticism, even if it's tinged with bluntness. This might shock you, but some people can disagree with you and not think you're hot stuff, and not do so in a spirit of spite. It's unfair to lump the internet troll with the person who just wants to help improve your book.

Third, let's just call this mentality what it really is: deflection. You're basically taking this mentality of, "It's not me who's the problem! It's those haters! That's all they do is hate! That's the only reason they don't like me!" Did you ever stop and think that maybe they have legitimate reasons for disliking you or what you've done? At least consider what they're saying and see if there's anything positive you can take from it. If they really are just trying to hurt your feelings, then ignore them; but don't delude yourself into thinking that you're this semi-infallible demigod. Some of the best people I had in my life were the ones that said, "Dude, man up," or, "You suck at this; do this more." They helped me focus on my strengths, forgo my flaws, and review where I was headed. Sometimes the words hurt, and sometimes it's difficult to chew, but that's part of maturing. If we forsake that, then we remain immature children.

So in conclusion, let me repeat that we should stop hating on the haters. After all, you just might learn something from them. And if that's the case...

Let the hate flow through you...


  1. Appreciate your post, Ben. I think some of the current thinking can be traced back to the notion they are teaching in school: we are all winners, we are all good, we can't do anything bad. Grades aren't given out because a bad grade can hurt feelings. The teacher simply marks the lesson as received. Teachers can't critique work because that is seen as being critical and not affirming.

    Unfortunately, the real world is a whole lot rougher. There are indeed haters and there are people with good intentions who are rather blunt. There are people who want you to fail and others you give unsolicited helpful hints for better living.

    Tolerance is a tough road to walk because it is so easy to be intolerant.

    Thanks for posting some much needed advice.

    1. Thanks for the comment, CW!

      Work in any art form isn't a matter of pass/fail. There's a thin line between hard work and natural talent, and those with the former are going to have to learn to deal with the rougher parts of their development.