The Rise of the Hater
by Shirin Azarvan
With the turn of the millennium the internet rose in accessibility and with it in popularity and relevance as indicated by the many correlations between the internet and the keywords chosen by the seminar. The term hater is one of them. ‘To hate’ used to signify a strong and radical emotion, as it still is in hate crimes. However, it has been trivialized in everyday language, in which it is used regularly and with little meaning. In this it has become a frequent substitution for ‘disliking’ which nowadays does not appear to be emphatic enough in a life style of superlatives and has drastically diluted the horror of said crimes.
The simple dislike of a person, object or event does not institute a hater, instead the constant voicing of one’s negative opinion characterizes the hater. He or she does so online, usually as a response to “creative” publications. Constructive criticism does not account as hating, instead it consists of name calling, swearing, insults and sabotage, which usually is of no relevant content and detached from the actual content but more so attacking its creator.
Hating benefits in many ways to its executor. There are many ways for fans to express their love and devotion to someone or something they support. Internet platforms, especially social networks, created this possibility for opposers of passionately expressing their dismay. Therefore, hating is a way of identifying oneself and taking position amidst a largely differentiated society. Opposite to this use of taking a stand, however, a very common source for hating actually is envy of the creator’s talent, idea or popularity.
Interestingly, too, the amount of haters or hate attention one subject receives indicates their popularity. While this is not true in all cases it certainly is with celebrities or trending products as the Apple brand for example.
The focus on “public”, “popular” people is another important factor of hating; the main focuses of the action lie on being heard and going in a different direction from fans. This large popularity of hate targets also helps haters disappear in the anonymity of social networks.
The term has become widely popular recently while its plural form is most common. Especially in music and other elements of the media like the recent commercial by adidas, “haters” seem to be mentioned when talking about great success. Many songs state “Hate on me Haters” or as in the very popular Taylor Swift single Shake It Off she sings “haters gonna hate”, which is a phrase, often used in relation to something strange or extraordinary, saying that there are always going to be people who will not agree with one’s decisions, being and lifestyle.
“Haters gonna Hate” memes usually consist of a strange, funny or extraordinary image or gif with the motto reading across it.
If there was no collective name for haters we would have no way of grouping them and of targeting our strength. Without being able to identify them, content creators would have no one to stand up to, no one to address when they tell their fans that they, too, can be stronger than their haters and defy those who hurt them. Taylor Swift, Beyonce and Miranda Sings just like many others would not be able to name those they won’t be torn down by.
When the group of haters of a person outgrow their number of fans, the negative input can become unbearable and dangerous for that person. In that way haters also have the power to decide how someone feels about themselves, which flaws become important to them and wether they will have a good day or even fear to open online accounts.
This has become very easy and popular with the anonymity of the internet through the construction of user names, or on social networks, for example, through the huge amount of users and the possibility to communicate without knowing each other. This must be seen as the main reason for critique becoming more harsh and cruel, often ignoring the actual point of a post, photo, or video and rather focussing on superficial and subjective criteria like looks and talent. The personal element and courage in telling someone we dislike them, or their actions, in a constructive way is fading away and by passable. In this way it is also easy to forget that on the other side of a computer screen a real life person reads hate comments and very likely feels hurt by them.
Celebrities often are the targets of hate, on Jimmy Kimmel Live! they get a chance to read out hurtful tweets in order to remind viewers of the damage hating can do to real people.
If someone acted like a hater in the “real world” they would be called a bully, as bullies are those who tease, mistreat, hurt, threaten and insult their peers. Awareness against bullying rose especially after the turn of the millennium and, although most webpages ask for constructive criticism, hating is not seen as violent or destructive as is bullying.
However, hating does not always have to be personal or straight out rude, it can actually be used to do good on occasions. As hating spread wider it developed the power to create a new kind of demonstration: the shit storm, the image of a weather formation in which negative comments hail onto a person or event and often lead to successful change.
The citizens of Western societies are able to worry and complain about things which should not be of interest at all. They are so to say “free” to be small-minded and worrisome. The rise of the digital age supports this sort of superficiality by making people much more visible and targetable for their peers and providing users lots more content to hate on, as well as platforms and systems which allow easy and loud hating.
Shaking off your haters can be this much fun:
1. Various definitions for the term hater can be read upon in the urban dictionary; some objective, others spiteful:
2. When connecting haters with dating the connection to homophobia is not an unlikely one. However, the relation can go in a very different direction, too. “Hating” has become so trivial that speed-dating has revived in form of speed-hating:
3. There now is an app in which people are provided with a space to hate on everything and anything they DON’T like and share their experiences with the web and other haters. The link in the webpage opens in Itunes, http://hater-app.com/ and this link provides some background information on the app: http://www.digitaltrends.com/social-media/hater-app-unveils-at-sxsw/
4. Since apparently everyone has haters, numerous webpages and magazines have taken it upon themselves to help the hater victims in understanding haters. While no one can know for sure 15 probable reasons for the origin of hating are listed below:
5. Once endowed with sufficient background knowledge it is also important to find ways to fend one’s haters off, Cosmopolitan thinks it is best to learn from highly frequented hater targets: