“Say it in the street, that’s a knock-out
But you say it in a Tweet, that’s a cop-out…
But I’ve learned a lesson that stressin’ and obsessin’ ’bout somebody else is no fun” -Taylor Swift, You Need To Calm Down
I have been making YouTube videos for over a decade. I’ve made over a thousand. Throughout that time, I only averaged 20 to 30 views per video. And rather than attracting a super fan, I attracted an obsessed, anonymous, super hater. Every few videos, he left horrible, personal comments attacking me, calling me a virgin and a loser.
I used my Reddit account mostly to lurk and submit some of my content, and he somehow found it and left a nasty message in one of my submissions. I could tell it was him by the tone. Blocking him seems to only spur him to create a new account.
Even today, he left a nasty comment in the counterpart video version of this article. Also, this time, a follower stuck up for me.
This guy used to affect me. But now, I’m happy to say he doesn’t as much. :) He doesn’t deserve my time!
Having people who hate you in real life sucks. And having anonymous people spew hateful comments at you online is a whole other unpleasant experience.
“Haters” are common phrase used to categorize people who don’t like you, especially for those with a social media following. It’s a bad label because the way pop culture references haters as just people who hate you for stupid or irrelevant reasons.
In reality, “haters” have all sorts of flavors. Some just don’t agree with you and don’t think you’ve done a good job proving your point or entertaining them. Some are just trolling for their amusement. Some are dealing with their own demons (jealousy, bad parents, etc.) and use the anonymity of the Internet to lash out at others. Some accidentally come off rude without meaning to with innocent intentions because of the convenience of typing on a keyboard casually while doing other stuff.
They Rely On Anonymity
Pat Flynn an online entrepreneur made a great podcast episode on dealing with hate. He cites a study on how a group of people made horrible comments about someone’s song when they believed it was anonymous. When they had a chance to say it to the singer’s face, they didn’t say anything. People hide their identities online when saying these hateful comments because they are free of consequences. They won’t dare say it to your face.
Hence, have a priority list of how much care you should give each comment. If they have a fake name and profile that hides their true identity, give these people no time for it to affect your happiness if they say something hurtful. They may be ashamed or hiding. The more they show who they are and the more you interact with them one-on-one in-person, the more time you can give each.
Moreover, CEO Gary Vaynerchuk of VaynerMedia says that the type of people you should give the least time to are people with some anonymous person with no achievements or real profile. When you’re on your deathbed, you won’t care what ‘punkman96’ or ‘thetruth’ said.
Every second you waste on that one negative person is one second you’re taking away from the dozens or hundreds of people who love you and benefit from you.
“Haters” are a horrible label for people in your career or social life because categorizing them simply as people who hate you for a ridiculous or unfair reason is inaccurate. Some stranger or person at your workplace laughing at you for something that’s weird is often doing so because his or her upbringing, culture, genetics, have molded a perspective.
As Dale Carnegie says, if you were that person with the same background, you’d do the same thing. That doesn’t mean it’s right. But it’s how it is.
Maybe it’s someone who cares about you that you’ve got to ignore. Your parents could have good intentions and want you to do well, but they have outdated, emotional ways of making sure stay safe, which sometimes crystallizes in the form of “You need to go to medical school instead of following your passion.”
Here’s some of my best tips on dealing with haters.
Understanding the Worst Type of Haters
Hurt people hurt people. The most mature, empathetic people understand that something bad must have happened in hateful peoples lives to try to tear down other people who are happy or already hurting.
In an interview, Mat Fraser, four-time CrossFit Games champion, said that negative Instagram comments used to really bother him. But then, he discovered something and never had a problem with it since. He said there’s never been a time when he clicked into the profile of the person who left a negative comment and thought, “That’s a successful person.” Mat said he only cares about what people really close to him think, and it doesn’t matter what strangers think.
Maya Angelou said that you shouldn’t care about haters because they cannot shine a candle’s light on the light you have pouring out. She said this point to Oprah, and it changed her way of perceiving haters. Oprah Winfrey used to be really affected by haters.
Steve Harvey said that if someone hates on you, it’s a blog. But if you respond, it’s a press conference. You’re giving attention to those who don’t deserve it.
In his book Act Like A Success, Think Like A Success, Mr. Harvey says that as an ambitious individual, you’re climbing a ladder. A hater is someone below you on the ladder, distracting you and trying to pull you down. By trying to kick at the hater below you, you’ve stopped yourself from climbing. Don’t stop climbing.
In a bucket of crabs, the other crabs will pull a crab that is climbing up down. They sabotage someone who is getting higher than them. Some people get jealous of success and have a scarcity mindset. They do what’s easiest, which is to try to destroy any success you obtain so you stay near their level. It’s easier to tear others versus improving yourself. But real winners will always win in the end.
Others have a deep cynicism to your work and information. They tear you down because they don’t think you’re valuable. They may think you’re a fraud and causing a disservice. They haven’t been persuaded the way you’ve persuaded others. A fraction of these people may be won over with empathy, time, and a new perspective.
Will Smith has had to deal with challenges with being one of the most famous people in the world. He says he refuses his mind from focusing on drawbacks. He says you have to learn to fight and defend yourself from predators without letting your heart go dark, which is a difficult balance.
Many successful people are doing awesome things and should rightfully ignore haters.
But what if they’re right? Well, they sometimes are. The sad truth is that the people who need to listen never do because they think they’re right, and people who don’t need to listen do because they doubt themselves and listen to haters when the haters are wrong.
How do you tell the difference? Statistics and market response. Let’s say you’re validating a product idea, song, or social media content, but you’re getting a negative respond from a good portion of people you talk to. And it’s a good sample size of people. Let’s say 500 people. That might be a red flag that it’s partially your fault.
Also, are you spreading negativity or promoting something against your values? If either of those are present, then, you may need to tweak what you’re doing.
Similarly, work on the hard math on success. Let’s say you want to be a pro gamer because Ninja made a million dollars playing Fortnite. Well, you find out that there are 5.9 million daily players and 447,000 are trying to go pro. You discover that 217 of them make a survivable income. Not good odds.
But you assess your current skill level, and you’re in the top 500 based on regional tournament rankings. You peg yourself in the top 1,00 instead to account for your bias for thinking you’re better than you are. So you have less people to climb past. Now, you map out what differences you have to make up (high quality, daily social media content, 1 in 5 shots lead to a kill, etc.), create a plan, and set a deadline (in 9 months, I’ll have all that stuff) to cover the ground.
Notice how precise, time-bound, specific, and mathematical it is. It’s a much better attitude with accountability versus just feeling like you can be Ninja without looking at the math. If you haven’t improved much or created daily content within 9 months, you have less room to lean on excuses and more evidence to show if you have what it takes or not. It also proves a better argument to your parents when they protest that you can’t make money with video games.
Motivational speaker Brendon Burchard has a great way of eliminating feeling self-conscious when you’re hated on. This works especially well if it’s only 1 or 2 people and you’re spending way too long dwelling on it.
How many people do you meet in a week? Let’s say you meet 100 people in a week. Well, how many of those are rude or mean to you? How many are haters? Probably 1 or 2 max. You are forgetting about the 98 or 99 that were nice to you! That’s a ton of people. Stop over-emphasizing on the negative!
Recognize that we have a psychological tendency to over-emphasize the negative. For every 1 negative comment, it takes at least 7 positive ones to make up for it. Don’t let that bias hold you down! If you need to, shield yourself from reading comments so you never see those negative ones in the first place. Celebrate and focus on the people who love you!
Science has shown that two of the worst things you can do to your happiness are dwelling on negative things and negative social comparison. Don’t let haters spiral you into a perpetual and worse spiral of negativity!
That might be a red flag. That’s not always the case, but you should be humble enough to at least check it out. One good guideline is to ask if you are spreading negativity or promoting something against your values. If either of those are present, then it may be you and you may need to tweak what you’re doing.
The Science of Why We Care
Most of us aren’t born hard-wired to not care about what others think about us. Yet the best-selling book The Subtle Art of Not Giving a F*ck (affiliate link) has proven that people want to learn how based on the millions of copies that sold.
But the truth is that sometimes, it’s useful to give a fuck — to care. Rather, it’s natural and an important part of social intelligence to do so at times. The subtle difference is when we spend too much time caring what people we don’t like or don’t know much about think about us.
It sucks when you read a negative comment even after ten positive comments. Our brain psychology is wired to dwell on the negative while skimming past the positive because it helped us survive. That one threat could’ve killed our ancestors. But this negativity bias screws us in the modern world.
Constructive Criticism: Moments When You Shouldn’t Just Ignore
There’s a difference between someone actually calling you out on something where you’re wrong or should improve versus someone purely hating. My example with The Truth is one where this anonymous guy just keeps spewing toxic negativity with little to no rational relation to my content. If I make a video on habits or dealing with haters, this anonymous shithead will just say I suck and I’m a virgin — not much constructive criticism there. That’s the type of pure, senseless hate you should ignore.
But there are times when you can use the power of anonymity to gain valuable feedback to improve that you’d otherwise miss out on because people are too nice. These folk genuinely see from their perspective something you can do better. They’re not simply trying to tear you down.
Rather than just blindly ignore them with the annoying but commonly used phrase “Haters Gonna Hate,” it may be useful to consider their advice, especially if they have expertise in that skill. If you make a singing video and someone says something like, “Your vocals are off here. I’m a singing coach for ten years and if you did XYZ, you could improve…”
Work on it! Don’t let the slightest bit of negative feedback hurt you or offend your ego. Even if it’s harsher, and people tend to be harsher without realizing it, it could be valuable information for you to improve. I assume you’re an ambitious person so you already want to improve. So open yourself up to constructive criticism. Unfortunately, many people tune out all of this because it gets falsely bucketed in with “hate.”
Should You Love Hateful, Anonymous People?
Should you just “hug your haters” (which is what Jay Bauer wrote a book titled)? Should you always just embrace people who don’t like you and aren’t part of your tribe or values? Not always.
You can spend some time with your empathy to understand and help them. Sometimes, they’re just struggling and may change their mind about you. But some people drag you down, and you don’t want to be the average of the five worst people around by hanging around them too much.
Old people understand that you only have so much life to live, and you’ll get mature enough one day to know that you’re not going to waste your energy trying to make someone like you that just doesn’t vibe with you anyways.