All Hail the Haters

I was distressed to find that three of my favorite bloggers encountered hate mail this week in the course of providing enlightenment and entertainment through their writing and instruction. Not surprisingly, they each dealt with a similar situation in very different ways, according to their personality type and blog voice.

Even though it resurrected horrible childhood memories, Lisa Hall-Wilson recovered from a personal attack with grace, courage, and forgiveness.

Daniel Nest responded to a bizarre and seemingly random crazy with characteristic humor and a little “right-back-atcha.”

And Graeme Street, cycling trainer and fitness guru, fought back from a punch to the gut with an impressive display of physical prowess. Get a load of the TRICEPS on this guy, my friends. How can anyone say he’s phoning it in!?

So, the haters…Who can forget the author who disagreed (ungrammatically) with a review of her self-published novel last year and was publicly (and a bit unfairly, IMO) excoriated in blog comments? I blogged about my response to that incident here at Edits [that] Rock.

But my question is: do the haters help us step up our game? Or are they just a blight on the blogosphere (and elsewhere to be sure) that we all will encounter sooner or later and must deal with in our own way?

Support of like-minded writers can pull us through the dark days when the haters are chipping away at our writing, our confidence, and our dreams. Kristen Lamb in her blog post this week talked about (among other gorrillas things) writers/authors banding together in order to anticipate, not merely react to, coming changes in publishing. Her mantra is We Are Not Alone (Yay, WANA!), and I have personally seen the power in that statement. In fact, she wrote a book about social networking with WANA in the title, which you can find at her website.

Hecklers, however, may have a positive purpose too.

We often respond (as the bloggers above did) to the haters in the best tradition of Nietzsche: “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger.” (That ol’ Nietzche was quite a card. He also said: “Ah, women. They make the highs higher and the lows more frequent.” 😉 )

Anyway, after the dust of emotion settles, if we can get past that lump that gathers in our throat and that ball of fear that settles in our bellies, we emerge from the incident tougher and clearer for having been through it. Or put another way, if everything was fluffy bunnies and cute kittens would we really ever reach down deep to the good stuff, the REAL stuff, and share it with the world? Sometimes we come back from a blow with our best response ever, and the comments to that response prove our worth to ourselves and our readers. Take THAT you haters, you!

A little research on the psychology of hate turned up this sage article from psychologist and writer Rick Hanson. He begins his discussion of the chemical causes of hate in your brain with the following:

I heard a story once about a Native American elder who was asked how she had become so wise, so happy, and so respected. She answered: “In my heart, there are two wolves: a wolf of love and a wolf of hate. It all depends on which one I feed each day.”

Hanson talks about how fight-or-flight chemicals from the primitive amygdala flood our brains, particularly our “rational” frontal cortex, washing everything in an “us” vs. “them” bath.

As soon as you place anyone outside of the circle of “us,” the mind/brain automatically begins to devalue that person and justify poor treatment of him. This gets the wolf of hate up and moving, only a quick pounce away from active aggression. Pay attention to the number of times a day you categorize someone as “not like me,” particularly in subtle ways: not my social background, not my style, and so on. It’s startling how routine it is.

There is some positive news for the primitive brain, however:

Humans and other primate species routinely restrain the wolf of hate and repair its damage, returning to a baseline of reasonably positive relationships with each other. In most people most of the time, the wolf of love is bigger and stronger than the wolf of hate…Love and hate: they live and tumble together in every heart, like wolf cubs tussling in a cave.

My hats off to these bloggers for coming through the storm stronger. We all need to spread more love and less hate. Include more people in our circle of “us.” Always remembering meanwhile that the Wolf of Love is still a wolf, right?

Have you ever held yourself back from a post for fear of the backlash? How do you deal with the haters? Do you turn to your supporters to buoy you up when you get stung with a hate zinger? How do you feed your wolves?

21 thoughts on “All Hail the Haters

  1. journalpulp says:

    I must admit, I am to some extent fueled by the haters. My other website —
    — generates a lot of negativity, and I’d be lying if I said this didn’t precipitate a good deal of output (on my part) — in response, you see, to the sloppy, half-assed arguments I get.

    Speaking of comments, thank you for your comment on my Suspense post. As a matter of fact, you, Kecia Adams, with all your love, precipitated that latest post.

    Peace out.

    • Kecia Adams says:

      Thought I replied to your comment last night? Something about you maintaining TWO blogs. Where did that go in cyberland? Oh, well. Thanks for reading, Ray. And keep writing! 🙂

      • journalpulp says:

        Hi Kecia. I’m afraid I can’t find your comment anywhere. I have three websites — two of which are journal pulp related — and I’ve checked every possible option that I can think of. I’m sorry about that.

  2. Daniel Nest says:

    Great exploration of the curious world of Internet haters!

    I tend to agree with the “haters have a purpose” school of thought. In my case I’ve gotten a great excuse to write up a post. Making fun of nonsense is my specialty, so my hater just ended up giving me some great material.

    I’m sure there are cases where hate comments are far more personal and do cut deep. However, even those cases are sometimes necessary for us to learn how to deal with them and better ourselves.

    You can’t please everyone and you’ll probably always end up getting hate for having opinions. The saying “If nobody hates you, you’re doing it wrong” has something to it!

    Dan O’Brien, a senior writer from (one of my favourite comedy sites) has explored the “hateful commenters” issue quite well in this article:

    Thanks for the nod and link to my post, I appreciate it 🙂

    • Kecia Adams says:

      Hi Nest! REALLY liked Dan O’Brien’s thoughts on this especially this line:
      “To a lot of folks, the Internet is still just the Wild West, lawless and open, and full of shockingly filthy people. There are no rules, and if anyone’s caught doing something wrong, the go-to excuse of “Relax, man, it’s just the Internet” isn’t stale enough yet that people won’t still casually throw it around. And maybe the Internet will always be this way, with fickle audiences, impossible-to-please commenters, distractingly endless pornography, and shameless plagiarists.”

      Read more: The 4 Worst Things About Writing for the Internet |

      Personally, I’d rather HAVE opinions and get hate mail than not have any opinions at all! 🙂

  3. My wolves of love and hate both seem to enjoy sleeping in the sun and scaring the occasional rabbit more than actually doing their jobs.

    Most of the time it’s way too bothersome (the Japanese word ‘mendokusai’ is actually a bit closer to what I mean, but I’ve never found a really precise translation of it) to expend the energy needed to ‘hate the haters.’ The more time one spends stewing on the evil of the haters, the less time one has to appreciate the finer things of the world: (i.e. the beauty of a Tchaikovsky violin concerto or the woman I passed in the train station the other day)

    Now cabbies who swerve in front of me when I am cycling are of course a whole ‘nother category…


    • Kecia Adams says:

      Any car swerving around a bike is reserved a special circle in hate-land. You’re right, no need to hate the haters…they just are. Much better to appreciate the small things. Thanks, Walter. 🙂

  4. Thanks for the link and the blog love, Kecia. In my case, my hater was a simple kick to the gut I never saw coming. It was pretty hurtful. But learning to rise above it, and look at the situation honestly helps with perspective. Great post.

    • Kecia Adams says:

      It seems like the surprise of the thing is what is most disturbing for us. We are minding our own business and then suddenly a swift chop to the throat makes us question everything. Reminds me visually of a time when I saw a woman get her purse snatched right on the street. We all just stood there while she screamed. Sad. I hope SHE rose above it. So sorry that happened to you, Lisa, but your light shone through! 🙂

  5. Great post, Kecia! Not long ago I was the victim of cyber-bullying, and, yes, I learned from it, but, frankly, if I could choose to eliminate all the nasty, spiteful folks from cyber-space, I definitely would.

    Is that realistic? Of course not. If we’re going to blog publicly, then anything we say or do is up for grabs. Here’s to friends and thick skin and a philosophical mind.

    • Kecia Adams says:

      Such a true statement: anything we say or do is up for grabs. The key is to understand that reactions (really good OR bad) have little to do with US and more to do with the person reacting and what’s going on in THEIR brain.

  6. Great post, Kecia. You’ve reminded us that it’s easy to lump haters into one ball of nastiness and pull oneself up to be above all of that. But haters come in all sizes and mindsets and can teach us some things, make us reach deeper, write better. The hardest thing, in my opinion, is to not allow the spew to open a vein of self-destruction (doubt,loathing,fear, etc). Alicia’s got it right – “Here’s to friend and thick skin and a philosophical mind.” Here! Here!

  7. Great post Kecia. great reminders for all of us about other people in the world. who knows why they act as they do?

  8. I am definitely of the school that if you don’t have anything nice (or at least productive) to say, don’t say anything. But you can’t control anyone else, so I imagine you have to rally support.
    Great post Kecia.

  9. Nifti says:

    Decided to stop in again.. and then to browse. This post has got me thinking… I’ve got many haters you see. maybe I’ll 🙂 rigth 🙂 about them – only i’m not quite as nice as you.

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