I can be a bit of a hater. I always have been, and perhaps I always will be. In middle school, I called myself a “nonconformist” (my sole act of nonconformity was boycotting Hollister and mocking those who didn’t), and in the future, I’ll probably call myself a “cultural critic,” which will primarily entail me judging people for giving their business to Starbucks while I pay too much for some fair-trade cold brew nonsense at an independent coffeeshop. I’m really just dancing around the label, though: “hater” suits me.
My experiences at Georgetown have given me plenty of ammunition for my hater-dom. My day-one exposure to new and scary things like Republicans, Vineyard Vines, and people who are actually religious brought out the hater in me, and, among my friends at least, I’ve tended to wear my disdain on my sleeve. Trust me when I that say the list of things that have seriously irked me on the Hilltop is long and ever-expanding. The thing is, I’m not particularly proud of this, and I have therefore endeavored to rid myself of my hater ways through the healing power of song and film. Join me on my odyssey.
“Haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate.” – Taylor Swift, “Shake It Off”
This song—in particular, this lyric—is the first thing that comes to mind when I think about haters. That fact in itself is a testament to just how irritatingly viral Taylor Swift Incorporated is (I mean that pathologically, not positively). But I digress. Yes. That is correct, Taylor. Haters do hate. But let’s give America’s pop princess a little more credit here. I think
the people Swift pays to write her songs Swift is getting at a few interesting things here. Firstly, there’s an unspoken postscript to this lyric: “haters gonna hate, hate, hate, hate, hate [no matter what you do].” The implication, of course, is that you should “do you,” because you’ll catch flack either way. Evidently, a lot of people have taken this message to heart, because, as a soon-to-be-ex-hater, I can confirm that hating a behavior or trend doesn’t put a stop to it. People I know are still Instagramming their brunch. Secondly, there is a reason Swift says “hate” five times here, and it’s not because she needs to flesh out a chorus (okay, it is). She’s saying that all haters do is hate, on repeat, ad infinitum—and, boy, that sure sounds like a sad existence.
“Everybody hating, we just call ‘em fans though.” – Fetty Wap, “Trap Queen”
Pithy. Profound. Proof enough that Fetty has got it all figured out. This lyric is a shot across the bow to haters like me. By hating, Fetty explains, haters are giving the subjects of their hate attention and authentication—things haters don’t want to dole out in the first place. To use an extreme example, consider the Westboro Baptist Church, whose members paid a mercifully brief visit to Georgetown last semester. I worry—and I think Fetty would too—that, by vocally expressing my disdain for the WBC (I stood outside at the front gates wearing a gay pride shirt and used close to, if not all, of Carlin’s seven dirty words), all I accomplished was to validate the group’s efforts. Hating, I think, is really a twisted form of admiration: it’s an admission, however underhanded, that someone or something merits precious time and energy. For those things that truly deserve hatred (and the WBC, we can all agree, is one such thing), the best way to make them go away is probably by deploying ignorance, not aggression. (See also: “Screams from the haters, got a nice ring to it.” – Kanye West, “Power” and “They see me rollin’ / they hatin’…” – Chamillionaire, “Ridin’ ft. Krayzie Bone.”)
“And when you hate, then you’re bound to get irate.” – will.i.am, “Where Is The Love?”
I know you whipped out the ol’ rhyming dictionary for this one, will.i.am., but point well taken. Not only is hating ineffective, as Fetty and Taylor have shown; it’s bad for your health. To check this, I typed “hating” into WebMD’s “Symptom Checker” tool—it turns out that I might have Mad Cow Disease.
“Let the hate flow through you.” – Emperor Palpatine, Star Wars Episode VI: Return of The Jedi
Mmm. Tempting offer, Palpatine. But look what it did to you (and your skin). Sith lightning-induced dermatitis aside, Palpatine’s deal really gets me thinking. I have tended to demonize what I dislike at Georgetown, to make it out to be representative some kind of monstrous wrong, such that it resembles, metaphorically, the Emperor. In my militancy, though, I give those I disagree with reasons to demonize me in turn. For instance, I’ve always been crystal clear about my feelings on a woman’s right to choose, and I have long been resentful of the fact that a certain slice of campus openly and vocally disagrees with me. I couldn’t (well, I refused) to understand the view opposite my own, and I assumed the worst of those who held it. Because I made no secret of that, they probably assumed the same of me. My experience in political advertising this summer gave a lot of exposure (albeit, initially unwanted) to the other side’s views, and I came to realize that many—but not all—folks go to bat on this issue because, for them, it’s a matter of the heart. I still am in wholehearted disagreement with the same group of people on the subject of abortion, but I can better see them as people now that I’ve dropped my gut-level disdain. I’ve taken a softer tone in my conversation with said people, and so far, it’s been a two-way street. Of course, the divisions sown by abortion in specific seem as intractable as ever, but surely we can all agree that seeing compassion in those who disagree with us is a better starting point for any debate.
If there is one thing that haters like me should take away from pop culture’s musings on the subject, it’s that hate is not the most productive way of airing and addressing your grievances. Contrary to what some might have you believe, there are things worth “hating”—big things, like restricted access to healthcare, and little things, like study abroad blogs. Haters need to find better ways of confronting them. Graham Greene, the famous twentieth-century British novelist, once wrote that “hate is a failure of imagination.” I think he’s right. But what do I know? I have Mad Cow Disease.
Noah Buyon is a junior in the College and an executive editor for the Voice. Carrying On is a rotating column by Voice staffers.
This article was originally published in the Oct. 23, 2015 issue with the headline, “The Path to the Dark Side: Forcing Hate Out Of Our Lives.”