Haters Gonna Hate

There will always be people that don’t like you. On the web, they just do it more publicly.

If you have never encountered someone who hates on you for what you’ve put on your blog, Twitter, or elsewhere on the internet– trust me, that time will come. It will not be long before someone comes across your site, reads it, and proceeds to try and get your attention by causing a scene or saying something that hurts your feelings.

The bad news is that you have to live with this. The good news is that you can get them to vanish if you ignore them, because they thrive on attention.

Despite this, prominent people on the web continue to give haters attention under the guise that they need to respond to everyone. This is nonsense. We choose who we want to give attention to the same way we reward positive behaviours and discourage negative ones in dogs. We don’t let them “express their personality” if that means they’ll bite us. Instead, we learn how to behave around them in order to get the results we want.

Despite this, haters will continue to come unless you drop off the map entirely. I’m not going to assume that these people are losers (as other people have), but it is clear that none of these people would behave this way in real life. There’s something about the disconnect between sender and receiver, when connected to the ability to read and write to anyone in the world, that can turn people into sociopaths when they’re surfing the web. Or maybe it’s them becoming their true selves, who knows.

The good news is about the web is that you have your own tribe, and you can choose to interact only with them, and never visit anyone else. They say this can lead to narrow political views, which means that you need to compensate by being broad in your search for knowledge elsewhere, but put that aside and you’ve got a good system for making sure no one has their way with you without your consent.

No matter what the size of your audience, you are a kind of micro-star who is, at least, famous for 15 people. So you need to act that way. My favourite example is the one where Tom Cruise gets hit by a squirt gun during an interview. The response is priceless. However you feel about him, his response, “Why would you do that?” is perfect to address the situation.

I remember sending an email back to someone who had left a comment once on my blog. The answer was amazing: “I’m sorry, I was in a really bad mood last night.” Seeing the humanity in the situation worked. Try it.





14 responses to “Haters Gonna Hate”

  1. Ivana Sendecka Avatar

    Oh, my what a super cool post, Julien!
    Thank you for that, and I loved video with Tom Cruise’s response to a “jerky” person;-)

    In Slovakia (where I am from) culture in comments on the blogs is requiring loads of personal strength to handle comments of people hiding behind fake nicks and names.

    That is why, I do very rarely post on my Slovak blog and instead I have focused my all attention into English blog, where there is indeed caring tribe of do-ers not whiners.

    Happy Thanksgiving & thanks again for your post!

  2. Jake LaCaze Avatar

    “Haters gonna eat” is easily one of my favorite sayings. It’s so liberating. Rather than attempt to please everyone, we should accept that some people are gonna hate, no matter what we do.

    I’ve also accepted that, for whatever reason, I may not like certain people. That doesn’t mean that they’re bad people; it just means that we don’t mesh well. And as you said, I can just spend time with my tribe, rather than being bothered by those I can’t stand.

    Keep on keepin’ on, playa.

  3. Jake LaCaze Avatar

    Wow, I have no idea why I said “haters gonna eat” instead of “hate”. It is Thanksgiving here in the States though.

  4. Zach Cole Avatar

    “Seeing the humanity in the situation worked.” – I love how this seems to be the overarching theme when deciding how to handle any situation in the digital world. Acting like a human would act in any other situation is the best route. To the point of not chasing the haters and adding fuel to the fire – this is positively the truth.

    Great post, and Happy Thanksgiving!

  5. Whitney Hoffman Avatar

    I ind it works to try to see the best in everyone first; not to assume too much malice and not to be too paranoid. Most often, when someone lashes out at you out of left field, it’s psychological projection of their own concerns, insecurity or ignorance. ie. if someone starts screaming at you in a parking lot, it’s more a reflection that any petty annoyance is the “last straw” for them, and they’re over-reacting- so keeping that in mind rather than feeding into crazy.

    feeding the trolls in generally not a good idea – it gives them something to push off and react to.

  6. Michael Miller Avatar

    Great post. Love the blog response you got. What is it about people when they are shielded? Same thing when we are driving. Would you ever call someone a fucking asshole and give them the finger in a crowded room because they bumped you in the buffet line? I’ll bet we’ve all done it on the highway. The unfortunate safety of anonymity.

  7. Julien Avatar

    You’re totally right about driving of course. Emotions run high because you’re by yourself, you feel it more intensely and there’s no social pressure to behave.

  8. Beth Campbell Duke Avatar

    Hi Julien. Thank you for this post, it’s made me do some thinking. I like your reference to dealing with dogs – I think the Dog Whisperer has a secondary career opportunity in human psychology.

    The majority of my experience dealing with “troll-like” behaviour comes from teaching high school. It’s a whole lot easier to discuss behaviour issues with teenagers probably in no small part because a teacher is in a position of authority and we have a personal relationship with students (hopefully one of respect). Teenagers are usually very willing to sit and talk about what’s really eating them.

    But this isn’t a conversation that I want to have with another adult – especially a person that I don’t really know. I think you’ve hit on it – online there’s a new way of being connected that allows us to feel connected to others while at the same time gives more time or room for insecurities to be expressed than would be done in-person where we respond to social pressure to behave.

    Have you ever had the person whose behaviour you’ve chosen to ignore continue to harangue you for being uncooperative and non-inclusive? It’s a clever psychological construct from many perspectives.

    1. Julien Avatar

      Sure Beth, that happens too. What I usually do then is just ignore the person entirely. This makes them realize that their tactics don’t work, so they eventually stop.

      This is the web, and every project that gets no attention eventually dies from lack of “oxygen”. By drawing attention to these things we do nothing but increase their lifespan.

  9. Suzanne Vara Avatar


    Haters are going to hate as they thrive on trying to hit a weakness in us. I always question the motive behind the haters. What are they trying to gain by their actions? Fame? A reputation for being the person who “told off” this person? And then I think of where did it get them? What purpose did it serve?

    Haters are more than trying to fulfill an inner insecurity. Many believe what they are doing and what they are saying and can be just relentless. Are they trying to exude some sort of control that only would exist in their mind? We do not pay much mind to them as sometimes when you call them out on it they retract or others, they prey on it and continue to hate more. In the end they have put so much focus on us that is not reciprocated. Which brings me back to their motive. Did they ultimately want us to do something they feel we should be doing that we are not, like pay attention to them?

    Great article and reminder that we have to put our focus on the people and things that matter to us most. The rest is all to get at us and make us react.

  10. Jeff Goins Avatar

    Love this. Well said, Julien.

  11. John Meadows Avatar

    The concern I have is that some folks in the online space will automatically classify anyone who disagrees with them as a hater or troll; this is nothing more than an easy out.

    Maybe it’s the way politics play these days, maybe it’s the media, but for whatever reason, disagreement is very frequently seen to have an ad hominem basis, even when it doesn’t.

    To dismiss and ignore detractors (vs trolls, and the two terms are not synonymous) just leads to embrace of a rigid orthodoxy, which would be sadly ironic in the social media space.

  12. Jason Avatar

    This is incredibly well said and the video of Cruise is excellent. I’m no fan of his but the way he handled that guy was great. I’ve had to deal with trolls so many times on my blogs because they hate I’m a Christian, or I’m not a liberal, or I didn’t slam X person or Y person when I did an interview with them. Eventually you just ignore them and begin to feel sorry for them that spewing hate (usually anonymously) is their default setting. I pray for them to find some joy in life that would keep them from being so nasty and angry.

  13. Jane Bozarth Avatar

    Amen to that. I’ve lost track of who first said this, so my apologies to the author, but someone on Twitter awhile ago said: “Stop trying to make haters like you. You’re not the jackass whisperer.”


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