Sunday, February 19, 2012

Why People Who Make Stuff Should Stop Using the Useless Word, “Haters” Indiscriminately

The slang term, “haters” has been getting a lot of circulation on the web, but it has an unfortunate reductive effect. The word is often used among young creatives. The term is equally as interchangeable with true maliciousness, as it is with people who simply disagree with you. It's a dismissive that doesn't allow any constructive criticism or dissent. It's often used to describe a collective, invisible enemy, whose target is a single individual. People also talk about “my haters”, or simply, “haters”, as in: we're in this together, you an I, us against those who indiscriminately hate us and our opinions or creations out of pure malice. This is in part based in a true kind of maliciousness that exists because of the anonymity of the web—people prove to be more vicious when they don't have to face their targets.

People who make stuff, pictures, music, whatever your passion is, tend to be sensitive, and justly so, when first learning their craft. These disciplines are difficult. Sometimes criticism, especially unconstructive criticism, can crush you before you get a chance to start. Encouragement is good, but I also think the indiscriminate acceptance so common on the web can be almost as destructive as indiscriminate cruelty. You can easily get into the trap of categorizing people as “haters” or supporters. The problem is, this is the best way to stay stagnant in your development, to have no conception of how much you're learning. In the arts, much is subjective. There's nothing that can definitively be declared of quality, and not of quality. Taste and aesthetics vary, but making anything still involves discipline, and when that discipline is directed towards a goal, it can be easy to lose sight of how close you are to that goal. If you seek out people who do the thing you want to do, and do it well, at least according to your own aesthetic, they can help you, if they're willing, to come closer to that goal. That's the whole purpose of teachers and mentors. If you are in it for the fun of it, with no particular goal in mind, by all means embrace your supporters. But if you have a goal in mind, strangers don't know what your goals are, and if you post your work publicly and rely on the opinions of strangers, ultimately you're going to receive some very extreme reactions. But these people don't and can't possibly hate you. They don't know you, your goals, your intentions, why you make this stuff. They don't matter. Not really. You can't let them harass you either, any more than you can take them seriously, but the more you think in terms of this invisible enemy that's out to get you, the more distorted your sense of self worth, and the true value of your art, is going to be.  

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