Thoughts on Haters

Criticism: The act of passing judgment as to the merits of anything.

There are essentially two types of criticism. The first is the type of criticism that focuses on thoughts, ideas and arguments. I like this. This blog is devoted to that level of criticism. The second is the type that criticizes people and their character. I do not like this. Not a fan.

If I do not particularly care for someone, well, first off, I would probably never tell the person unless there was a compelling reason to do so. Yet if I had to tell them, for whatever reason, I would focus on their behaviors, thoughts and/or ideas that I find problematic…not their character or assuming motivation for what they do.

I am a professor. I am professor with an opinion. I am a professor who openly and freely shares his opinion.  I am a very outspoken professor who invites criticism. I actually enjoy being criticized -in the argumentative sense- and challenged. I seek it. How on earth are we ever going to discover new ideas and thought forms unless we continually challenge the status quo thought forms around us? Criticism is not only acceptable…it is sorely needed for a culture to evolve for the better. Just ask Plato or Socrates.

Given this, it does not take a math major to deduce just how much criticism I get…and I love it.

The great majority of people are really wonderful in terms of their feedback towards me -positive, supportive, understanding, and, above all, quite civil and polite. I was evaluated by my peers and students this past semester and every comment received was positive in nature. I was very pleased to earn a stellar evaluation in every sense. Yes, I, like most people, need positive affirmation in my life…it feels good. It is really nice to know you are making a difference in people’s lives as you contribute to the cultural conversation.

Yet there will always be a minority of people who do not just personally criticize, they hate…in fact, they are haters. dear-haters-i-have-so-much-more-for-you-to-be-mad-at-be-patient

If you would like to see a sampling of haters, go to nearly any youtube video and read the comments. Many are mean, spiteful and angry…and, frankly, I am not sure why.

I have had my fair share of haters in my day and I totally get it at one level. In a world full of different personalities, there will be inevitable clashes…I totally get not liking someone, being irritated by someone, completely disagreeing with nearly everything someone stands for…I get that part. I have a, fortunately, very small group of people in my life that I feel this way towards. And, guess what? I rarely think about these people as they are not worth my time and energy for me to do so.

It is the proactive hating part I just do not get. Who the hell has the time?

I suppose in one sense the day you have haters is the day you realize you have achieved something in life.

One of my favorite comedic bits is Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrity Mean Tweets in which celebrities read very hateful tweets about themselves written by others in a very self-condescending display of spiteful humor. It is fairly simple to conclude that individuals who put themselves out in a public way will be criticized, even further, hated by a small number of people who actually have time and energy for such gross negativity.

I was discussing this idea with Rene’ after she insisted I delete a very hateful comment that someone posted on this blog. I did publish it at first though she opined that it goes against the very nature of this blog -which, she correctly contends, is based on arguing thoughts and ideas- and not being mean spirited and, well, hating. After further reflection she was right, so I deleted it. Wanna hate and be mean? Go to ratemyprofessor or youtube…or find another blog to hate on. (In an ironic twist it does sound as though I am hating the haters, does it not?)

She mentioned a passage from a book she is currently reading by Elizabeth Gilbert entitled, Big Magic: Creative Living Beyond Fear who has a different take on those who criticize or even hate:

Pigeonholing is something people need to do in order to feel that they have set the chaos of existence into some kind of reassuring order. Thus, people will stick you into all sorts of boxes. They’ll call you a genius, or a fraud, or an amateur, or a pretender, or a want to be, or has been, or a hobbyist, or an also ran, or a rising star, or a master of reinvention. They may say flattering things about you, or they may say dismissive things about you. They may call you a mere genre novelist, or a mere children’s book illustrator, or a mere commercial photographer, or mere community theater actor, or a mere home cook, or mere weekend musician, or mere crafter, or a mere landscape painter, or a mere whatever. It doesn’t matter in the least. Let people have their opinions. More than that – let people be in love with their opinions, just as you and I are in love with ours. But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing… or even their comprehension… in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business.

Hmmmm…I like this. I suppose haters are simply ones trying to make sense of their own lives and need to vilify selected others in order to do so. Thus it says far more about them then it can possibly say about you. I suppose we should not put too much stock in either high praise or the hate as people need both their villains and heroes, deserved or not, in order to make sense of their own existence.

So civilly criticize away people! I believe it was the motor city madman, Ted Nugent, who once said, “If you are not making waves, you’re not paddling hard enough.”

I like that. I think that is pretty good advice for all of us. And maybe, just maybe, you can have haters as well -in case you don’t already. And then you can have the honor of knowing you are instrumental in the making of someone else’s personal narrative.



  1. Awwwww man……now you just went and ruined all the fun I have sitting at outdoor cafés having drinks and making fun of people…….

    • Making fun of people is not hating! If that were the case my family would be a family of intense haters! Thanks Baba.

  2. I really like this! I know I have people whom hate me, I am just not sure who they are. I tend to upset people who are really negative and want to be mad because as a home health nurse I have always been very compassionate about building relationships with my patients or just people in general including my kids and their emotional well being was always my number one priority, I believe happiness keeps you healthy longer and so I do whatever I can to make them laugh or at least smile for that day. I know being to happy or laughing to much has gotten me dirty looks and then I am 100% patient advocate so I have pissed off many doctors, nurses etc, which I could care a less as long as my patient is ok. I am told a lot I am to nice unless you upset me then I am very outspoken and will stand my ground. I hope I have a lot of waves to look back on one day and I hope I have given all of my haters something to truly think about. Personally, I have no energy for hate and when I do feel hate come on I try my hardest to focus on all of that persons positive characteristics. Hating is a burden I do not want to carry on my shoulders.

  3. Haters gonna hate. But I’m also guilty of being a “hater”. Not because I don’t have a life of my own. I don’t really know why I hate on people sometimes it just gives me a good laugh. They never did anything to me (mostly) but I’ve never done anything to my haters either (kind of). Hating is normal for humans. For me it’s almost a boost of self esteem. Which sounds awful but whatever.. Lol. Aslong as they’re not crying about it I could care less 🙂

  4. I wish you would write something that I disagreed with! However, in lieu of arguing I will attempt to contribute to the conversation. You said the following in regards to the necessity of positive affirmation – “Yes, I, like most people, need positive affirmation in my life…it feels good”. Which I agree with completely, we do need positive affirmation in our lives. However, what if someone never receives positive affirmation from others? Then perhaps they are able to give themselves a form of positive affirmation via putting others down, or ”hating”. It’s called ‘Rankism’ and loosely defines it as follows: “Rankism is what Somebodies do to people they take for nobodies” (Fuller). Well, the fact is, everyone wants to be a somebody so how do they decide who is a nobody so they can put them down? My guess is that it’s anybody who they perceive as a somebody. So who’s the best somebody to hate on? Who ever is making the biggest waves.

  5. If you do not particularly like someone I would hope you do your best to at least avoid interaction and contact with that person. I like that you go on to mention you have people who you feel negatively towards, but just because you disagree with where they stand, I feel that some need to be ‘hated’ on. We can all be civil but if someone comes along and is being completely asinine and is putting people down, should that hater no be hated on? I also believe being hated on is subjective. One person could take criticism as “hate”, others could take an attack on character as constructive criticism. Lets say someone is making fun of another, that’s being a hater, however is it any better if one does not politely criticize and just ignores the situation and does not help to develop or change a persons views and/or values? I believe there will always be haters, because the fine line of criticism and hating is razor thin to some, trying to improve a liars behavior could benefit that person, but is also attacking a characteristic trait, thus could be considering hating on that person. I say a mix of having haters as well as criticizers helps us develop to our fullest potential.

    • Thanks for your thoughts, asshole. Just kidding :)…I believe the difference between “hating” and criticizing is intent and motivation. In my mind, hating is a proactive attempt to put one down and make them feel badly with absolutely no redeeming value to the person and is derived from a place of spite with no attempt at reason or rational argument. Criticizing addresses specific behaviors of the person (rather than THE person) and is sometimes coming from a place of love and concern…Rene’ criticizes me frequently and I know where she is coming from. I believe that to hate haters only perpetuates hate…and I have no interest in the putting out that kind of negative energy. Those towards whom I feel negatively will never be expressed to them…as this would serve no purpose. But that’s just me….

  6. I really liked this. I thought it was a great narrative on why people might hate or, what they may get out of it. However, I do think you were too nice in giving validity to this ever growing group. There was a time, that if you were a “hater”, you would have to have a pretty big set of balls/ovaries on you because you would have to own your criticisms for them to have any weight. Today we happen to have a group of people who aren’t afraid to say whatever their mean little minds can think of because they are doing it from the safety of behind their computer screens. There have always been those type of haters to to talk behind one’s back but that action in itself usually re veiled what a coward that person was. Today everybody has something to say about people they will never meet and they feel like such bad-asses while doing it. I agree with you that tearing others down is probably how these new age “haters” try to put their own lives into perspective but I think that its important to call these folks out for what they really are. Cowardly commentators.I love phrases like the picture you posted in this blog post or the Ted Nujent quote but, i also think that a lot of that hate would be kept to themselves if they ever had to say it in person. I don’t know if i can take solace in the idea that I’m “instrumental in the making someones personal narrative” because quite often these narrators have the same cowardly opinions about everybody they meet, everything they see, Anything that anybody does. I respect those that have “hate for rival sports teams or something that truly is a passion to dislike. But those who just have nothing better to do than just sit a make terrible comment after terrible comment about all the things that they’re not doing could just fall off the planet and I think we’d all be better for it.

  7. Even criticism on someone’s thoughts, ideas or arguments can be nasty. Its all up to the person. They could have someone tearing them down everyday so to validate themselves they do it on social media or wherever to further spread the pain they feel without having to many repercussions.

  8. I actually really needed to hear this right now, today. The final two lines from the quote from Elizabeth Gilbert, “But never delude yourself into believing that you require someone else’s blessing… or even their comprehension… in order to make your own creative work. And always remember that people’s judgments about you are none of your business.” were very powerful to me. It is hard to remember that of myself, to have faith in my own beliefs especially when they are centered on myself and my talents. In my past I have dealt with people who were unable to respect my decisions even though I was the one in charge. When you are managing a large group of people it is very easy for one “hater” to turn the entire group against you purely because they were not selected to be in charge and are jealous. It is important to not let them get to you and I would definitely say that was my biggest mistake. One of my friends who is a psych major called it, “narcissistic supply.” In essence haters purposely poke at your sore spots in order to get you to continue to engage them, keeping you focused on them in no matter what unhealthy way they can.

    This brings me to my question and semi argument for you. What should be our response towards these haters? At what point does it become bullying and we need to step up and take a stand against it? If we do, who will be there to back us up? I often find that when I vocalize what someone is doing most people will blame you because it is easier to do than the other person. I am a firm opponent of bullying and I am often at odds of when the right time and the right way to stand up against the haters are. Thoughts?

    • Thank you Stashia…beautiful name btw, though I am sure you get that a lot. My response to haters is completely context dependent. If it is someone I must work with I have no choice but to deal with it some level. I am a HUGE proponent of wisely choosing your battles…because to go battle carries a great cost. Since a hater typically has no basis in reason and reality for the hate, in my mind it makes very little sense to attempt to “hash things out” in a logical approach. I do have a work “hater” and I do nothing because the downside of the hate has not reached such a level that it is costing me very much and does not yet warrant an attempt at amends of some sort. If it ever got so terrible it was greatly affecting my professional life, I would likely try to bring in a third party as a type of mediator…because, well, they hate you and are not going to take your word for anything.

      If it something I do not have deal with, I don’t. Haters gonna hate and accepting them as part of your life is par for the course. Though, again, if it got to the point there was no choice but to deal with it, I would most definitely bring in a third party and, depending on the context of the hate (work, school, social, etc…) that mediator could be a number of different people. Perhaps we can discuss this in more detail face-to-face or via email in the near future as I can understand why you would not want to go into more detail here.

  9. I agree with this 100%. I do not understand why people need to take the time out of their day to ruin someone else’s.

    • Thank Riley. I was just having this conversation with my son the other day. We both concluded that we believe these people are just absolutely miserable and really hate themselves more than anyone. When they can find a target to their internal rage it is far easier to turn outward than look inward.

  10. YESSS PREACHHHH. I also dislike haters, like why can’t they just keep those negative thoughts to themselves rather than having to attack their victim because overall, how I see it, it makes the haters look dumb. When you brought up Jimmy Kimmel’s Celebrity Mean Tweets, I was like, “YES HE KNOWS WHAT’S UP” I love watching those because I love to see their reaction and how they are not fazed by those hate comments.

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