A Handy Guide for When Everyone Hates You

At some point or another, someone or maybe lots of someones are going to dislike you. Hell, they might even dislike the entirety of your digestive system that we call guts, to the extent that they will use the word hate. Yes, there are many levels of hate, but I'm really talking about the lowercase kind. It's not violent. It's mostly vibe-y. It's really just there. Intense dislike. The not liking of all the things about you that make you you. Or maybe just some of those things. Either way, it's probably unavoidable at some point, online more than ever, so really you just have to learn to deal.

It will surprise perhaps 1.8 (new) readers that I have some experience being hated. Something about me, often when expressed in verbal form, just tends to stoke the ire. I have many many friends who can attest to this. Strong personalities and opinions, these things are more easily hated than mild-mannered get-alongness. Duh.

But here's something really important to point out, if you're one of those people who gets hated often or even just one time too many: Not being hated doesn't necessarily mean you're super great. It just means you aren't offensive. I should clarify: Not being hated SOMETIMES means you are such a great, nice, genuine, awesome person that you simply don't make enemies because how could anyone hate you, you are so gentle and kind and lovely. Other times it means you're basically oatmeal, and no one has even noticed enough to realize that you're completely insufferable. But, hey, also lucky.

But there are a few sentiments in the world of hate-talk that have always bugged me.

"If you're pissing people off, you must be doing something right!"

Sure, sometimes. Being hated could mean that you're saying something true but uncomfortable. But it can also mean you're just being a dildo. How do you really know? This guy is getting some serious hate, but he's not some freedom torch of truth. He's super dicky. No question. I think you realize this when everyone you actually know is like, no really, you were being a dicky dildo and it's time to own up. I hope that guy's friends told him so.

Haters gonna hate.

Well, OK. Sometimes haters are just going to hate, no matter what, because hating is in their DNA. But sometimes haters are just decent, but misinformed people who rush to judgment. In which case haters gonna hate a little, but perhaps not if you school them. Remember this?

So I propose a handful of questions you can take yourself through to gauge and mitigate being hated, so that you can still get out there and live your life, as hate-free as possible.

Why do they hate you?

You! You're a nice person. You aren't as terrible as they say. Sure, you're sassy sometimes, but that is a world apart from this blood-curdling hate you have amassed. But sometimes hate is blind, impersonal and misguided. Other times it's highly specific, and specifically pointed at you. So ask yourself, what's the hate all about? Try to really boil it down to a specific sentiment, if possible. It's usually because they think you are being annoying about something.

Are you being annoying about something?

  • No, they just hate me.

Eh, someone somewhere finds sunshine, flowers, fresh breezes and lovely wine annoying. Fuck 'em.

  • Yes, I'm annoying and it's on purpose!

Well, then, you're going to be hated. And you know it. I think you even like it.

  • Yes, I'm annoying, but not really on purpose, and this is terrible.

If it's accidental, and it tears you up inside, you can either try to clarify the thing and apologize and make some kind of real amends, or just accept that no one is perfect and you did a thing that people are going to hate you for. You twerked where the twerking ain't good. FIX IT.

Is it simply impossible to avoid being hated if you continue to be you?

This is important. If the answer is no, if you're you and that harms no one, but inspires hate, then fuck 'em.

Take this recent study that says feminists and environmentalists are super hated. This makes sense because these are people trying to change the system. They have unpopular opinions, stubborn goals, marginalized identities. The very work these groups do force people to examine traditional thinking on a fundamental level in a way that is uncomfortable or painful, and those people are often going want to shoot the messenger or just blindly hate.

There's nothing you can do about that shit, not really, so again, fuck 'em.

Or is there a way you can practice your specific brand of you-ness that makes you still you but less hate-worthy?

Maybe? As this Feministing post explains so well, abrasiveness is kind of an inevitable feminist job hazard, for instance. Women being loud is what gets shit done. You could try to tone it down when necessary, but that isn't how you shake up the system.

Look, I get it. Sometimes you have to play Friendly Feminist to achieve your goal. Sometimes you don’t have the luxury of pissing people off and waiting for them to come around to your position; we make compromises to survive. But you know what? Other times the most powerful way to get what you want is to make some trouble. Maybe the politician whose vote you need won’t listen unless you’re loud, or your community won’t actually stop to think about your position until you make people uncomfortable. Maybe you need to make literal noise (by the old definition of “literal”) until midnight to stall an abortion bill.

And that abrasive shouting can, in itself, be a feminist victory.

Amen.

But I'm not a raging activist or anything, I'm just a regular person who people tend to hate easily because I'm [insert hate-worthy thing here].

Ohh, ok, you're just a regular person out there being hate-able you. You're a DMB superfan, or you don't know how to tell a joke, or you're super self-absorbed, or you're a close talker. A Debbie Downer! Someone who always, always, always forgets to pay people back. You're always happy! You love yoga. You brag too much. You're way into dogs and you treat them better than people. Or whatever.

If you sense the hate enough to care/notice/read this, you'll have to get real self-aware and start figuring out what it's about. And it really comes down to this: Either you care or you don't care enough to really really work at being a better person so that X person or X people like you. Either there's some specific person you need to fix things with, or you have a general tendency that lots of folks just don't dig on.

And being a "better person" in this case may or may not actually mean there's anything wrong with how you are, just how it strikes other people. This is a slippery slope. Some people will just hate you no matter what. Why go around catering to those people's idea of what a good person is, when chances are, in less than two seconds you could identify something easily hate-able about them, too? I'm not suggesting to hate back, I'm suggesting that he who is not hate-able should cast the first trolly comment. Think about it: Someone who doesn't really know you just hates you? And that's the sort of someone you're supposed to work real hard to win over? Eh.

Dive in to the sweet, sweet blanket-pool of hate.

Sometimes, it's healthy and funny and kind of hilarious to realize that no matter what you do, you can't stop pathologically being yourself, and that many people will dislike to the max for it, but many others will in fact find it quite charming. If you being you causes actual harm to people, that's one thing. But if yours is the more benign form of blight that happens to irritate your fellow humans to no end just for the sheer you-ness of it, and you can scarcely imagine being anything but yourself, well, just learn to embrace that which is hate-able within you. Dive in. Swim around in it. I recommend this old lady spirit animal.