If I’m Successful, Why Don’t I Have More Haters?

Posted on February 17, 2016


I believe it was either Jesus or Taylor Swift who said, ‘The haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.’

There are two types of people in this world: those who love Taylor Swift, and haters.

There are two types of people in this world: those who love Cam Newton, and haters.

There are two types of people in this world: those who love Caitlyn Jenner, and haters.

There are two types of people in this world: those who hate haters, and haters.

Sometimes I wonder, If I’m successful, why don’t I have more haters? I get a lot of eye rolls, blank stares and general indifference, but very little hatred. Sometimes I send people Facebook messages and Facebook reports the message as ‘Seen’ and I see that person active making comments on other posts, and I feel somewhat dismissed, but never hated.

The media will say you can’t be successful and follow your dreams without attracting your fair share of haters. It’s a very easy narrative to frame all of life’s stories and ideas into an eternal struggle between the heroes and their haters. But I worry maybe the idea that everyone must find their passion to be happy and anyone that offers contrary opinions or advice can be dismissed as a hater is an ultimately unsatisfying way of processing life.

Never, ever, ever let all the haters discourage you from pursuing your dreams…

…was the life philosophy of every dictator from Genghis Khan to Stalin.

They say you should always follow your passion, but what if your passion is genocide? Hitler followed his passion. Maybe his high school job counselor should have been more specific.

The media has a very simple cause-and-effect explanation for success/happiness:

Step 1: Find your passion/Be yourself.

Step 2: Your passion and the uniqueness of you will scare the status quo and attract haters. (That’s how you know you’re on the right track.)

Step 3: Prove those haters wrong.

But there’s also an easier, alternative path of inventing haters, citing a handful of Tweets or letters to the editor as evidence of widespread hatred, and claiming that means success and that you’re doing something artistically or socially worthwhile. It’s kind of a chicken or the egg situation. What came first? Did success breed the haters? Or did the haters breed success?

Hollywood loves a hater. I hate that. My son Luke and I have a running joke when I introduce him to one of my friends and I say ‘Luke wants to be a movie director when he grows up,’ and Luke proceeds to invent a long-winded movie pitch with absolutely zero conflict and no antagonist. ‘When this guy was a kid everybody told him he could be an astronaut, and guess what? They were right. He could. He became an astronaut. And he hoped to be selected for an important mission, and guess what? He was. And some other astronauts had hoped to go on the mission and when they weren’t selected they started talking behind his back about how they were disappointed but still happy for him and couldn’t say the process was unfair in any way.’ And Luke will go on and on and on to see how long the adult will listen and be polite before interrupting him.

Isn’t it sad that nobody would watch that movie? Not even Luke. One of the things that make us human is our love of story in all its forms, movies, books, news, but unfortunately there is no story without conflict. The Hollywood executive and the news editor have one very simple question when hearing a story pitch: ‘Who’s the hater?’ There is no conflict without an antagonist, i.e, a hater. So sometimes you have to invent one.

I rarely meet anyone who looks or acts like a hater, but the media says the world is full of them. Sometimes I wonder if maybe, just maybe all the haters don’t actually hate me but just have a different opinion based on reasonable beliefs, different life experiences, education, and values. Maybe there’s a lot less hate than we’ve been led to believe. And if you disagree, well, maybe you’re just a hater.

If you didn’t hate this post you might enjoy: Keep Drinkin’ the Hateorade: Version 2.0

I had great shows last weekend featuring for Lynne Koplitz at Stand Up Scottsdale. I’m back for six more shows this weekend for Joe Matarese. Come on through if you’re in the Phoenix area.

Paul Johnson Joe Matarese

Posted in: Columns