Haters and How to Handle Them By: Stephanie Hoover

I know the term “hater(s)” is currently very popular, especially with our now, President-Elect having used it often on his social media accounts. I’ve always disliked this term as I’ve associated it with the younger, t[w]een population who I assumed used it to be dismissive of those who didn’t blindly support their decisions, good or bad. In Googling the term it’s defined as, “a person who greatly dislikes a specified person or thing” and “a negative or critical person.” I think “hater” is a bit of a stretch for the former definition as “hate” is defined as “intense or passionate dislike.” However, in combining “an intense or passionate dislike” with “a specific person or thing…[by] a negative or critical person” I more clearly understand the term.

With that said, I’ve unfortunately interacted with what could be termed as “haters” a few times in my life and I’ve found many other people have as well. Calling someone a hater seems, from the victim’s standpoint, a way for them to say, “Yea, someone seems to really hate me and/or hold a negative viewpoint, but I’m not going to let that affect me.” This typically results from the victim not being aware of why they’re so hated or the allegations happen to be false. While shrugging hate off is the mature, and probably most appropriate way to handle a hater, it often doesn’t stop the hate. This incessant hate, which seems to never be curbed, doesn’t always have a rational, or even appropriately emotional, explanation. For those familiar with The Dark Knight you will understand my quote reference, “Some people just want to watch the world burn.” For those who may not understand, it loosely means that some people are just bad/evil.

How did hating become a substitute for a hobby, or, just become a hobby? I honestly don’t know! It could stem from people being too polite, not being confrontational, or just not wanting to be on the receiving end of someone they see constantly hating (and ruining the lives of) others. There are thousands, if not millions, of traditional, non-life-ruining hobbies: sports, diy projects, joining a club or organization, reading or watching movies, becoming a mentor, expanding one’s education, fighting for a cause to help humanity or the earth, aiding the homeless, cleaning up your city, etc. However, some people consciously decide for their hobby to consist of hating another person and trying to ruin their life/reputation. Other reasons may include: extreme boredom or dissatisfaction with every other possible hobby in the world (or their own life), innate evil tendencies they can no longer repress, or a mental illness they refuse to admit to having and therefore do not/will not seek treatment. Granted, there may be other perspectives and possibilities, but these mentioned, and aside from explicit revenge (eye for an eye), are all that make sense to me in a situation that by all other means does not make sense.

Why am I trying to make sense then of something that clearly doesn’t? Well, as a student I’m trained to gather information and try to make sense of it. I learn from not only from books and institutionalized education, but I also learn from personal interactions and experiences as well as conversations with everyone I can possibly interact with. Maybe if I understood “hating” I could come to terms with why some people consciously choose to be horrible to one another, despite the very fact that they could just as easily choose not to. I’m not saying that everyone has to like each other or get along, but what I’m saying, and this is important, if you do not like someone (or even hate them with extreme passion) then YOU leave them alone. Be polite and courteous when in public and when forced to interact, but when outside of these moments you, yes you, can actively choose to not think about them, not to seek out information about them, not talk about them, not spread rumors (true or not), and not to go out of your way to make their life difficult or take away from their happiness. These are all choices that are up to you. It’s also referred to as self-control. If you find you’re struggling with controlling your feelings and you’re negatively impacting others’ lives I urge you to seek counseling. If you’re on the receiving end you may also need to seek out counseling and guidance to get through this persistent, and often unneeded, hating. –Even if someone has wronged you, learn how to cope with your feelings in an appropriate manner. You aren’t the first and won’t be the last person to have whatever happened to you happen. You can either let your hate consume you and others or you can find a way to control it and not let it not only negatively affect someone else, but you as well. There are many people that I don’t like, aren’t my favorite people, have had disagreements with, or even have hated myself, but I do not spend my time stalking their social media accounts, asking anyone and everyone for information about them, try to get them fired from their job, hope they fail in anything or everything, or ruin relationships for them. I’m a firm believer in “just because I don’t like someone or get along with them doesn’t mean others won’t.” Ex. I may dislike Sarah, but that doesn’t mean that others may not.

Reminder: If someone does not want you in their life and you are constantly obsessing over them, what they’re doing, where they work, what’s going on in their personal life, seeking information about their friends and family, spreading gossip and rumors about them, interfering with their job, etc. then you need to seek professional help. This is not only abnormal, but it’s unhealthy; for both of you. While someone may be interesting or has metaphorically struck you in such a strong way that you spend your free time avidly trying to access information about them and constantly share it with other people, who do or do not know them, you need to know that this is considered stalking. “Stalking is unwanted or obsessive attention by an individual or group towards another person. Stalking behaviors are related to harassment and intimidation and may include following the victim in person or monitoring them. The term stalking is used, with some differing definitions, in psychiatry and psychology and also in some legal jurisdictions as a term for a criminal offense.” Not only are these behaviors often against the law, but they’re just bad behaviors to have as a person and you should wish to be ridded of them, not embrace them.

If in reading this you’ve found that you are guilty of many of these attributes I’d recommend first that you disengage from the person or people you’ve been obsessing about, second seek counseling, and then try to find pleasure in interacting with your friends and/or family, find an appropriate way to spend your time (a hobby that doesn’t include stalking, obsession, or evil acts toward another human being), and to, more broadly, focus your energies on doing something positive. Also, if you know someone who is a hater then please stand up against them for the sake of those they’re potentially abusing with their negative behaviors. Saying nothing makes you an accomplice to their hating. We need to hold each other accountable in appropriate ways and stop the hating. *Notice, there is a difference between venting about mistreatment, especially in interacting with haters, and becoming a hater yourself. **Second note, when someone states a fact about you that you do not like you cannot call them a “hater” or “shit-talker.” If you cheated on your significant other and people are talking about that, that is not people being haters, that is people stating facts about you. However, an opinion about something someone said or done is completely subjective. That would be like people saying you should not get the house in the divorce because you were the one who cheated and caused issues within your family.

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