If you have spent more than five minutes on the Internet or social media, you have most likely encountered a "hater" or two.
Matt Walsh writes on his blog: "Haters, hello. You've been pretty active recently. It seems every time I go on the internet I see you all, hard at work spewing your misery and envy. Does it get exhausting, Haters? Do you ever come home from a long day of relentless negativity and resentment, and just think to yourselves, 'Geez, I'm not sure that Hating is really worth all this energy'?"
Walsh continues: "Let me assure you: it isn't. When that tiny voice creeps into your head, when it whispers those doubts — listen to it. It's telling you the truth. It's pointing you back towards the land of the living, where humans charge out into the light, striving for greatness. It's telling you that there’s more to existence than skulking in the shadows, grumbling and grunting like trolls; sneering at those of us who have made ourselves vulnerable to your barbs by actually trying to get things done."
Walsh cites the case of Maria Kang, a 32-year-old fitness enthusiast and mother of three who is defending a controversial photo of herself that prompted thousands of Facebook critics to accuse her of "fat-shaming" women. In the photo, Kang, who is in undeniably excellent physical condition, poses in a workout bra and shorts while surrounded by her three young sons, ages 3, 2 and 8 months. At the top of the photo are the words "What's your excuse?" While most of the input on Kang's photo has been supportive, much of it has also been made up of people accusing Kang of being "insensitive," of only being in shape because she's "lucky" and "has the right genetics," of not having the same struggles and medical issues as others, of being a fraud, and of being a "bully" and a "bad mother."
"And this is where I must stop you, Haters," Walsh writes. "Be as thin-skinned, jealous and spiteful as you like, but you have no right to take someone else's successes away from them. You have no right to invalidate their achievements. You have no place. ... She had it easier than you? What genie from what bottle gave you the power to peer inside a stranger's conscience and confirm that wild speculation? Are you sure she didn't just work harder? Why have you ruled that possibility out entirely?"
Walsh continues: "Some people climb the mountains. Some people stand at the base and hope the climbers hit a loose rock and fall to their deaths. You seem to be in the latter group. Fine, you're safe down there on the ground. It’s just that you're not really alive, either. ... Success comes in many forms, and the Haters of America despise it in all of its manifestations. It's easy to look at someone who is wealthy, or fit, or happily married, or whatever other version of success, and quickly assume that these folks 'got lucky.' But there's a problem with that assumption: these things can't be accomplished passively. These are the fruits of labor that you don't see, and maybe can't even fathom. You aren't inside their minds to hear that voice telling them to give up, to give in, to stop trying. You can't hear them fight with that voice every minute of the day. Nothing is easy, Haters. Everything is earned. They have it because they earned it. You don't because you didn't. Deal with it."
Walsh goes on: "It's OK to have flaws. Lord knows, I've got 'em. I've got a massive surplus of flaws. I could be so much better — a better husband, a better father, a better Christian. I could be in better shape. ... I could be better at blogging. So I look at the folks who have achieved more than me in these areas and I use them for motivation. Hate them? How could I? I'm hiking the same trail, they're just farther along. Everybody faces challenges. Everybody has handicaps of some sort. Do you think yours are more crippling? Do you think yours provide you with unique excuses? Really?"
But, Walsh says, there's good news: "You don’t have to be like this. I'm not saying you should be a bodybuilder, or a millionaire, or anything else; I'm just saying you don’t have to hate success. When you see someone smiling proudly after hitting their target, you don’t have to respond with childish mockery and derision. You don't have to feel attacked or insulted just because your neighbor is finding happiness and fulfillment in his chosen pursuits. You think your only recourse in the face of greatness is to try to discredit it, but you're wrong. Your efforts are futile anyway, and they're also wholly unnecessary. You only carry on like this because you've given up on yourselves. You're running around knocking down sandcastles because you think you aren't capable of building your own. But you can, my friends. You're exploding with potential. It would leak out of your pores if only you'd uncross your arms and break a sweat. You can be great at something, I know it. Leave your Hating ways behind and take a step or two down the path to success. It won't be easy, but the best parts of life are never the easiest parts."
What do you think of Walsh's message to Internet "haters"? Do you agree with his assessment that "hating" is ultimately rooted in jealousy of others' accomplishments? Have we become a culture of being too easily offended?
In his blog on Crosswalk.com, James Emery White writes about the seeming rise of "haters" on the cultural scene. "I'm not sure what can be done with the 'haters,'" he says. "They don't seem to be blushing at their vitriol, so trying to admonish them does not seem to offer much promise. Most are fueled by a self-righteous indignation that prevents them from contemplating their own misconduct. Some even claim to be victims of some wrongdoing, so they often have the added fuel of revenge. ... And it's doing enormous damage to the cause of Christ."
However, White goes on, "while I'm not sure about reaching the 'haters,' I do think some ground might be gained among the 'hated.' ... There's no excuse for a hater. There are times when it needs to be forcefully confronted for the sake of the witness of the church. But since so many of the 'haters' in our world -- whether in sports or politics, business or ministry -- seem tied to 'ego,' let's at least try to meet the hate with humility."
Have you ever been among the "hated"? Have you struggled with your own feelings of pride or jealousy or the temptation to be a "hater"? How have you personally dealt with it, and how do you believe Christians can best deal with this issue in our culture?
For further reading:
- Are You Offended?
- Haters Gonna Hate: How to Deal with 3 Kinds of Hate Mail
- Why Doesn't God Bless Me as Much as Others?
- When Someone Else Gets What We Want
- The Culture of Offendedness & the Christian Challenge
- Choosing Grace
Anna Kuta is the editor of ReligionToday.com.