Haters. If you do anything other than cower quietly in your cubicle, you’re gonna attract at least one hater of your very own. There’s just something about doing shit that attracts assholes. Like dopey bears to an unmonitored pic-a-nic basket.

Here’s an example from my inbox today:

Guy wrote in asking me if my podcast was a \"couldn't\-be\-fucking\-arsed\" cast

This, my friends, is the hater in his natural habitat. As is typical with haters, there’s a weird dynamic: I HATE YOU WHY WON’T YOU GIVE ME WHAT I WANT (AKA MORE OF YOU). Pay attention to this; this is the key to most haters.

Haters want you(r stuff), and can’t have you(r stuff), so they spew bile like so many spurned Linda Blairs.

Whether they “can’t have you(r) stuff” because they can’t afford it, because it would somehow violate their “code”, or they resent you because they want what you have, or whatever…there’s pretty much always the lover-scorned aspect to true haters.

This is the dynamic that inspired so many songs about how hate and love are just two sides of the same coin blah blah teased hair smoke machine.

Negative feedback isn’t haterade.

Lots of peeps these days seem to classify any kind of negative comments as haterade.

People write in and tell me they don’t like my book, Just Fucking Ship, because of the 18 “bad” words inside. Or they say, “I looked past it, myself, but I can’t recommend it to others because of the cussing.”

That’s not hate. It’s cool, totally fine and usually polite. That’s feedback. It’s not feedback I intend to follow, but as long as they’re simply expressing their own preferences, I am happy to receive those emails.

People who simply don’t like your stuff aren’t haters. Even people who think you did a poor job. All you need to do is say, “That’s ok, guess it’s just not for you!”

Haters try to teabag you.

A hater is someone who tries to badger you, intimidate you, or guilt you into changing your ways. They try to flex their (imaginary) power.

Instead of saying, “I don’t like it, they’re wrong, I won’t buy it”… they get nasty. They leave nasty comments. Or emails.

And maybe intimate that they — just ONE person — are, for example, very powerful, because they are your entire (London) audience. And they can’t bear to just tell it to their LiveJournal or their own Twitter followers…no, they can’t just complain about your work to other people in the normal course of human conversation.

They have to force it on you:

  • Your inbox.
  • Your tweet stream.
  • Your comments.

If you don’t see it, it ruins their fun.

A hater wants to hurt you, or at least overpower you.

Here’s an example: I wrote this polemic on how event software is so rigidly (and badly) designed. A hater commented (anonymously, natch) and implied that the events I run must be complete shit because OMG GASP I AM SO UNPROFESH and no good organizer EVER runs BEHIND SCHEDULE.

Ooooh, that stings so bad. See also: cars shouldn’t have airbags because if you crash, you deserve to die.

I called this dillweed out on Twitter and he came back two more times to spray his superiority over my comments. I just kept deleting ‘em.

Haters also leave nasty comments (or write nasty emails) about my cussing, ordering me to “shape up” or “suffer the consequences.” They seem to think they’re in a position to wag their finger and change my behavior, and their distaste for the word “fuck” is universal and OMG I must comply with their advice OR SUFFER THE CONSEQUENCES.

The threat of punishment is a major part of the hater playbook.

The threat can be either losing their good favor (ha!), or all of my attendees hating me cuz I am OMG TERRIBLE (sure), or even The Universe rearing up and refusing to buy my book and leaving me homeless and crying on the street. Wah wahh wahhhhh.

And sometimes they just level obscenities at me in my inbox because…I haven’t put out a new podcast lately? Presumably they’re pissed because they want more…of me?

Yep, saying I can’t-fucking-be-arsed is totes gonna make me shape up and get in line!

That’s a hater, for you. Logic ain’t exactly their watchword.

Here’s how to handle your haters

  1. Delete their comments. You don’t owe them airspace.
  2. Banish them from your presence. Somebody sends me hate, I block them immediately. If they’re on my list, I unsubscribe them. If they’ve actually paid for something, force-refund and shitcan them. No amount of money will turn me into a punching bag. (Again - this doesn’t apply to bonafide customer criticism, but the hater will-to-harm-and-power dynamic.)
  3. Name and shame. A lot of people will blot out the name of a hater when they attack in private. Screw that. They’re not paying you to protect them.
  4. Respond in public. I’m pretty sure this habit of mine is why I get far fewer trolls than many other people in my position (especially women). If somebody tweets bile at me, I respond so that all 16,000 of my followers can see it while I cut them down.
  5. Tell them they’re precious. I reserve this for trolls who lecture me on Twitter who try to act all intellectually superior. They hate it, and it’s adorable. “Aww, thank you! You’re really brightening up my day. Aren’t you the cutest.”
  6. Recognize that they’re miserable. Seriously, this is the best piece of advice, because it’s easy to get so wrapped up in responding to an attack to think: What kind of person actually spends their time sending nastygrams to internet strangers?. Nobody happy and healthy, that’s for sure. The worst troll I ever had followed me around IRC and disrupted every channel I was in. Years later, long after the community ran him out, he sent me an apology email…as part of his 12-step programs, because he was an alcoholic and a drug addict. Naturally. I wasn’t surprised because nobody with any self-worth would spend their time that way. You can know a pathetic sack by his/her actions. I do hope he made a better life for himself, but I didn’t respond.

Oh, and as for that rude person who wrote into our inbox?

I gleefully clicked the “unsubscribe” button for him.

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