We all have them. Haters are just a fact of existence, and unfortunately, they’re not going to disappear from your life anytime soon. There will always be people who are jealous of you, disagree with you, or just plain dislike you. Journalists especially have to learn to adjust to haters, because we have the privilege and power to express our thoughts for the world to read; obviously, not everyone agrees with everything we have to say. To quote Uncle Ben, “With great power comes great responsibility,” and one of our responsibilities is responding to criticism and adversity with poise. Here are a few things I’ve discovered in the course of being a high school journalist that everyone should learn in accepting haters.
Cry about it a little. Yes, not everyone likes you. This is a fact that I have struggled with since elementary school, when I actually trapped a girl in a bus seat so she’d have to talk to me and therefore come to like me. That night, as I proudly recounted my successful tactics to my parents, they warned me that trying to make someone like you isn’t always going to work. Needless to say, they were right. However, that doesn’t mean that cruel words and cutting opinions don’t hurt. It’s important to acknowledge that you’re upset and need a little time to wallow. Personally, I recommend chocolate during your pity party.
Do not retaliate with similar cruelty. That tweet, Facebook status or rumor really stung, I know. Of course your first instinct is to jump to your own defense with an aggressive counterattack to make them reconsider before ever insulting you again. Shocker: this will only make it worse. No one wants to read your beef over social media (unless there’s nothing good on television) and any instinct based off anger or distress probably isn’t the best course of action, so think before you respond. Taking the high road may be more difficult, but you emerge looking classier and more mature.
Respond to the hater in question. Most people don’t like confrontation and would rather talk about you than to you when they’re upset, so actually addressing them could shock them into looking at the situation logically. Calmly defend yourself by stating your point of view, even if you’re boiling on the inside. If it’s a really personal issue, deal with it in private: over a text, Facebook message, or even face to face. Bringing it out into the public invites ridicule from people who don’t necessarily know both sides of the story. It also makes it seem like you love to fuel drama.
Just be honest. If you are under attack because of something you actually did, own up to it. Explain your thinking behind the action and offer apologies when appropriate. Chances are, people will stop being so harsh if they see that you understand how you offended them and are genuinely sorry. On the other hand, if you’re unsure why you’re being treated rudely, just ask them what you did to deserve such accusations. Then you need to tell them how you really feel. Your frankness may actually lead them to sympathize and compromise with you.
Address the problem so history doesn’t repeat itself. Maybe it was a misunderstanding or an inconsiderate comment you made that offended someone. Whether you were truly to blame or not, there is always something to be learned from conflict because you can always take bigger precautions to avoid it. The fact remains that even haters don’t like the drama they create when you hold them accountable by confronting them. No one likes to waste his or her time in pointless tiffs. Be more careful next time, but remember: haters gon’ hate. They always will.
Caitlin Plummer, a senior at Meadowdale High School and co-editor of Meadowdale’s newspaper, The Maverick, enjoys writing about a broad range of topics that are on her mind. She was born in Lynnwood and lives there with her parents, her younger brother and her golden retriever, Cinnamon. Her future aspirations include earning a degree in journalism and writing for a major news source.