Some people say that once you have haters, it means you’ve somehow made it.
And maybe that’s true. You’ve certainly caught the attention of enough people to start to separate them into groups – those who love you, those who hate you, those who don’t have the honour and privilege of knowing you yet. It’s funny though -when you’re presented with the hate of someone who you’ve never actually met, it doesn’t feel like success. It actually sort of stings.
Last week, while I was away in Maine, living out even more of those dreams I started articulating last year when Vivid & Brave launched, friends here in Calgary shared some screen shots from a Facebook group I’m not a member of. In those screenshots, I was expressly named – first and last name, even spelled right! – and was the focus of some pretty passionate vitriol. It was much the way that women attack each other – namecalling, discrediting, ugliness. And on that day, I was mostly too busy to care. I made a few comments, and then set it aside.
But it’s been poking at a corner of my brain ever since. I can’t seem to shake it. This concept of being hated by people who don’t really know me, but who have always been welcome to get to know me is at once foreign and familiar.
In high school, like many of us, I was not very popular. It wasn’t a very pleasant time for me – being a chubby, half Pakistani grunge kid with an affinity for black tipped manicures and writing (super bad) poetry didn’t exactly lend itself to being top of the heap. There was namecalling. There was harassment. There were a few suspensions from school after altercations with the popular crowd. Now some of those people are my friends on Facebook. I found my confidence to be who I am without apology, maybe in part because of those experiences. We all grew up.
I guess though, that some of us didn’t. Or that some of us, given the relative anonymity of the Internet, simply find it too easy to slip back into old habits. I know, logically, that the power of being polarizing can’t be denied when you’re in a business like this one, but emotionally, I struggle with how to respond in the face of these sorts of things. My brain says not to give them any more space in my head, while my heart says to make more room. Make more space. Open up, be honest, be vulnerable.
Haters are hurtful. As much as I secretly hoped that some of the people reading would Google my name and find this blog (#alwayshustling), I also wished to not be the named party in a hate fest. It doesn’t feel good. I’m all about the straight truth – honesty without pulling a punch – so this is as honest as I can make it: I try hard to remember that what someone says about me says more about them than it does me, and I try hard to ignore the naysayers, and I try hard to only worry about “the people in the room”, but I also still have feelings, ones that do get hurt by unwarranted attacks on my character by people who don’t really know me.
And I worry that in all our attempts at ignoring our haters in the interest of not telling them they got to us, that we’re missing something important, and that is the ability to tell a hater that we see and hear them. Haters: We can see you. We can hear you. You’re not slinking under the radar behind your blue lit screen. We know you. Facebook is only as anonymous as the name you’ve put on your account. You’re not really getting away with it. And when you sit back and name call and slam someone else, your hurt becomes glaringly obvious. Perhaps the most wounded among us are those who are lashing out at others. Is it giving a hater too much space in my head to want to make room for them in my heart? Maybe. But maybe that’s the first step in squishing it.
Haters. I hear you. I see you. I’d love to talk.
***Title inspiration courtesy of Taylor Swift’s “Shake It Off” – which is now stuck in your head like it’s stuck in mine.***
I’m a communicator. That’s a PC way of saying I like to talk, but I also spend a lot of my time listening, and over the years, I’ve developed a sense for subtext – how one or two words can change your entire message, what people are really trying to say and how to weave the varied layers of your story into one cohesive brand message that your clients fall in love with.
When I'm not acting as editor in chief for Vivid & Brave, you can find me geeking out over words here.
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