Hater Culture…Why Bother?

When it first became popular I wondered when the usage of the word “haters” would go away.  Sure it was catchy, and which one of us didn’t use it?  It seemed to put you so above it…acknowledging your haters without engaging in a battle of words.  ‘

And who didn’t have haters?  Of course rappers from Lil Wayne to Lupe Fiasco had their fair share.  As a matter of fact T.I’s latest hater acknowledgment, Hello, performed on Jimmy Kimmel the other night was to “wave” and Jay-Z’s homage of brushing the dirt off your shoulders became the ubiquitous sign for dismissing your haters.  It hit its overused phase when it became popular among soccer moms and in cheer music….yep, I swore it was time to retire it but the phenomenon continued.

Everyone was brushing off their shoulders for EVERY REASON!  People who didn’t have shit to be jealous of but had a lot to work on were now claiming that any constructive criticism was coming from haters.  Got an acquaintance living in the hood, struggling to feed the family but driving an overpriced car with a payment–not a good idea–but please don’t say it or you MUST BE A HATER!

That’s the world we live in.

So, when is it okay to acknowledge your haters?  I ask this question because of a recent single by Beyonce that is drawing a lot of attention.  The title of the track is called, “Bow Down/Been On”.  In the track she admonishes who most would reference as “her haters”(she doesn’t use the word) by letting them know that the Queen is here and the rest can bow down.  With lyrics like, ” I know when you were little girls you dreamt of being in my world, don’t forget it, don’t forget.  Respect that! Bow down, bitches”, it’s obvious that she’s not above addressing the buzzing around the Beyhive.  The question is why?  The image that is put out by this undoubtedly talented woman is one of positivity, encouragement and all out girl power.  Why bother addressing the people who critique you, unfairly or otherwise?

Ignoring negativity is harder for most people than accepting a compliment.  Someone tells you that they love your dress and you respond with “I got it on sale”…minimizing the compliment.  Not so with a criticism.  Many of us don’t lack for a witty retort or blazing feedback…even in lyrical form.  We come up with scathing ways to address those who view us negatively, our haters and tend to focus less on the positive vibes sent our way.

Getting to it…when is it okay to address the naysayers?  Never.  It’s not a valuable usage of our time.  Am I guilty of it? Of course, I’m human.  I have the innate desire to address what I feel may be unfair portrayal of my decisions, abilities, or person.  You don’t have to be a celebrity to have experienced the feeling of being made a caricature of.  Every date someone with a venomous ex? ‘Nuff said.

Whenever you stop to engage with these people you invite them into your circle and enhance their credibility on you as a subject.  That’s right!  You make them a subject matter expert just by responding.  Their word is reviewed; their tweets are retweeted more frequently because you took the time to address it.  You gave them “press credentials”.  In Beyonce’s case she was most likely addressing another artist that recently critiqued her Destiny’s Child band member via Twitter but also the people who judged her talent post inauguration and I’m sure the entire less than devoted fans who take time to listen to her music and track her movements for the sake of something to talk about.   It’s what people do!  Unhappy people find flaws in others and bring public notice to them, if it wasn’t Beyonce it would be another star.  Your best bet? Stay above it.

On the other hand, know when you’re facing constructive criticism that could be helpful to your development and recognize when it’s coming from the right parties.  If Maya Angelou is reviewing your poetry and making suggestions, it might be the right time to listen up!  Don’t be so proud or egotistical that you begin to feel above reproach.  We all have room for adjustment and growth, even the writer, so if you have issues with this particular piece, I’m glad for the criticism even while recognizing that a little mental motivation isn’t for everyone but it doesn’t make you my haters.

Thanks for the critical eye; I promise it will keep me focused on my craft.

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