A nobody? An enemy? An insignificant individual with an invalid opinion? I think it is none of those things. The vast majority of people, when they talk about their haters, are really just referring to people that do not share their worldview, opinion, or ideology.

It is my experience of humanity that very few people have people that hate them. Hate is a strong word and an even stronger intent. Hate is the burning desire to watch somebody collapse under the weight of their own ignorance or misaligned actions. Hate is something we all feel to some degree, but it is rare that we feel genuine hatred towards an individual or even an idea.

In the age of social media and information overload, hate is a dangerously misused and ill-defined word. It is my estimation that the word ‘hate’ has become almost a replacement for ‘alien.’ It is a term used to radicalise people’s thoughts and force people to take sides. It is a word that has become the weapon of choice for groups who talk of equality but act in a totalitarian fashion. Hater is the moniker such groups attempt to pin on the chest of anybody who opposes or questions their ideology and/or intent. It seems that the term hater is applied to swathes of people, despite hate being a very individual emotion. Hate is, to me at least, a term people use far too loosely and easily

Screw all the haters… the commonly given but undeniably dangerous advice we pass around like idiots

Screw all the haters, you hear them cry. The real question is, why? Why would you want to dismiss the thoughts, feelings, opinions, and worldviews of another individual? What is there to learn from that? Sure, it may teach you something about yourself, but it is unlikely that you will like what you’ve learned. I say that with confidence because I have experienced it myself. I have shut out other people’s insights, opinions, and worldviews specifically so I do not have to question my own. What this taught me about myself is that I can easily choose ignorance as a path and, perhaps more dangerously so, that I can justify it to myself in such a way that I really start to believe it.

There is danger in believing your own hype; a great deal of danger. To confirm this, all you have to do is look into the world at people who others cannot say no to. Do they still retain a healthy sense of themselves? Or do they stagnate and become a demented caricature of who they used to be? Look at Hitler, people could not say no to him, and he lost his mind. Stalin, the same thing happened there. Mao, too.

If you look into the business world, you will see plenty of people that are surrounded by people who cannot say no to them. While this may bolster their ego, it does nothing to broaden the scope of their worldview, nor does it facilitate growth in the individual or the group attached to said individual. You only have to stop and look for a moment to see the negative impact that has on that individual’s entire world, but you best not disagree with them or you become just another hater, right?

If people were really haters, they wouldn’t share their insights and observations with you, especially the negative

Do people hate you? If so, why? Someone having different ideas does not constitute hatred. On the contrary, it should facilitate a meeting of minds, a healthy debate, and growth for everyone involved. If you think someone hates you, what does that even look like? Do they wish you were dead? Not just that, do they think that their situation would be vastly improved if you were dead? In 999 times out of 1000, the answer to both of those questions is no.

When a well-meaning friend or associate tells you to ignore the haters, what are they really saying? Are they telling you that you should charge on despite being blinded by ignorance? Or is that just how you interpret their words? Precision of speech is essential to effective communication, but a great many people fail to properly articulate their thoughts, feelings, and opinions which then makes it next-to-impossible for you to take what they really meant from their words. People that share their observations with you, especially the negative, are people you need in your world. These people keep you honest and enable your growth.

Just because their viewpoint differs from yours does not invalidate what they have to say. In fact, it makes what they have to say all the more valuable to you. Contrasting perspectives and opinions shine a light on your own, enabling you to properly organise your thoughts and refine your worldview. You don’t have haters; you have helpers. This remains true even when the other person deliberately tries to bait you into getting emotional.

Take what you need, not what you want

Life is a game of give and take. It is, in a sense, a transactional affair. When you have a discussion with another person, and you listen to them, both parties are refining who they are in the moment and who they are to each other. It is how we measure the worth of our own viewpoints by carefully stacking theirs up against yours and forming a new, and hopefully improved, perspective with all the new data you have acquired as a result of the discussion.

It is all too easy, and far too common, for people to enter into discussions looking only to override the other person and impose their views upon them. This never works out, especially if you have that discussion with someone who has at least half a brain. The goal of any reasonable debate is to take what you need from it. This is not the same as taking what you want. What you want is validation of your ideas, but casual congratulations and back-slapping do not truly validate your idea.

I’ll tell you what does though, a healthy discussion or debate in which your idea is taken apart and put back together. When you enter into a debate to learn something from the other person (and from the act of discussion itself), your idea grows and evolves. That process is what validates your idea. It does so by testing how robust an idea is and how practical it is.

Really listen and you’ll hear that they aren’t really haters

Have you ever really listened to a person? What about in reverse, do you feel like you have ever been truly listened to? Listening is something that people talk about a lot, which is certainly ironic. The real irony is that most of those who talk endlessly about the value of listening do very little of it; most are just trying to tell you to listen to them specifically.

When you listen to a person, you hear what they are saying, but you also hear what they are not saying. It is often the things left unsaid that speak the loudest. Properly listening to a person is the most compassionate thing you could do for a person. Many people in this world feel disillusioned with their lot in life, and for many of them, it is because they have never truly been listened to.

People are interesting, they are nuanced, and they are full of thoughts and feelings that would be otherwise impossible to detect if you don’t really listen. When you listen to a person you are validating them, you encourage them to think (and speak) freely and to express themselves in the most revealing of ways. Listening is more than just a tool, listening is at the very core of what makes us human. Listening to others helps us to manage and understand our own perspectives; it shows us what is possible whether that be good or bad.

Speak honestly, act with integrity

Do you lie? Before you say no, let me just stop you. The true answer is yes, you do lie. Everybody lies, it is impossible for a person to live their life without telling lies in some capacity. Lies aren’t always a bad thing, at least the intent behind it isn’t. If you were truly honest, 100% of the time then you would struggle to create and maintain healthy relationships with the people in your world. Most of these lies come not in the form of an outright lie, but as an omission of information that is in the moment considered unnecessary or potentially harmful to the other person.

With that being said, when we have proper conversations with people we must always endeavour to tell the truth. It may seem like a cliche to say it but the reality is, if the other person catches you in a lie it makes them question their entire perception of you. Not only that, but when you tell people lies, it prevents open discourse.

A proper conversation needs to have an honest back and forth otherwise all parties are just wasting each other’s time. Choose your words carefully, but make sure that you truly mean them. Speaking openly and honestly with a person shows them the colour of your integrity. It widens their perspective of you and lets them know that you play by rules set by your code of ethics. Integrity matters.

Integrity of action begins with honesty of thought. Speech is an extension of thought. To have an open and honest conversation with someone is an intimate affair, one that needs to be handled carefully, but that intimacy makes it possible for both parties to learn from the discussion and modify their worldview. To lie in that situation is dangerous and irresponsible because both you and the other person will end up modifying your worldview based upon a lie, when that gets found out it invalidates any good that could have come from that discussion. Or even worse still, the lie doesn’t get found out and now that person is wading through life with deliberate misinformation which can lead them towards poor decision making.

Avoidance of input reduces the effectiveness of the output.

If you have a topic that you want to discuss, do you really want to discuss it or do you want to give a speech? People don’t like to be lectured, especially when they did not invite it, so when you enter into a discussion, you must ensure that proper discussion is what you really want from it. If you just want to give a speech, then record yourself and put it online. There is little point in wrangling up another person to talk at, especially under the false pretence of wanting discussion. Your idea should lead to something that could be another idea, something to plan and execute, or any number of other things. Everything has a purpose. That includes every thought, feeling, and idea you have. If you limit the input by not having proper discussions with people to debate and refine the idea then the potential outcome of said idea becomes restricted.

If you tell yourself that you should ignore other people and brand them as haters, what does that say about your feelings towards your idea? I would suggest that it says that you aren’t very confident in your idea and you are worried that engaging with other people will make your idea fold. How will that impact the potential outcome? It would seem to me that you already know that the idea lacks validity and will therefore be unsuccessful.

There is a simple remedy to this though. Very simple, in fact. You stop with the pretence that you are all-knowing and recognise that you don’t have haters around you; instead, you are surrounded by people who are willing to discuss your idea which in turn strengthens your idea as it (the idea) evolves.

All ideas evolve; nothing is absolute

Evolution happens; you cannot fight it. You can, however, inadvertently steer that evolution to a destination you probably won’t like. Your ideas are formed in your thoughts, that is where the seed is planted, but the magic happens when you begin articulating that idea. Blocking out the “haters” is just a way of shielding yourself from perceived ridicule. The ridicule that, in the real world, is unlikely to ever come.

In your efforts to block out everyone with opposing ideas, you are sheltering yourself from the very thing that will enable your idea to evolve into something extraordinary. When you block out the voices that you don’t want to hear, all that remains is an echo chamber which, as previously mentioned, is a dangerous state for a human being to exist in.

Your haters, as you call them, care enough about you or your idea to contribute their own thoughts, feelings, and opinions. They are providing you with the materials to build out your idea into something useful, but that doesn’t mean that you have to use them all. It just means you have to consider the possibility that an external perspective could help you see that idea more objectively. Stop telling yourself you have haters, you don’t. You have access to people, thoughts, and ideas that you couldn’t possibly produce yourself. There is no real downside to just listening. There is no upside to blocking people out and branding them as haters.

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