Wednesday, March 22, 2017
Hate the Hate, Not the Hater. OK, Maybe the Hater.
There are always going to be a percentage of people who find a reason to hate. This has always been true. But why are we seeing an increase in hate? Are there actually more haters? Not necessarily. It now appears the haters were always there, but we are certainly seeing more hate. Possibly because the internet enables haters to artificially amplify their voices beyond all reason and reality. The more hate there is, the more the haters feel empowered to spew and victimize. They never seen to miss an opportunity.
No healthy person hates reflexively. We are naturally many things; suspicious, skeptical, curious and cautious. But hate, as an unprovoked default response, is unnatural. We should consider that the haters are damaged, small, scared people with serious problems. Of course there are those haters who are calculating and dangerous. It is not just the haters we need to worry about, but the hate itself we must challenge.
Haters come and go. The hate itself is generally far worse than the haters themselves. The venomous posts, hateful comments and awful Tweets have a reach, longevity and impact way out of proportion to their significance.
A recent ADL study "Anti-Semitic Targeting of Journalists During the 2016Presidential Campaign" clearly demonstrates how a small group of cohorts can spread an inordinate amount of hateful rhetoric.
We rightly and appropriately sympathize with the victims of cyberhate. We rarely feel compassion for the hater. Hate damages both the victim and culprit. The ultimate danger is making the victim a hater themselves. Responding with hate in return for receiving perpetuates the most damaging cultural phenomenon of our day.
Take the power away from cyberhate. Reach through the hate. Treat hate like fog and it becomes insubstantial. Treat victims as friends and their fear and darkness is mitigated. Reach and hold onto the things that we share instead of fixating on the things between us. Hate is not a little thing, but it is small, and we can make it smaller.