This week, I had a realisation.
Some people don’t like me. In fact, there are some people out there that hate my guts.
That wasn’t the realisation part… I mean… I have been blogging since before the word ‘blog’ was a word. I have been a ‘figure’ on the internet for longer than that. And I have always attracted my fair share of detractors. I polarise. That’s no mystery. I do it on purpose.
The realisation for me, is that there are people who don’t like me… and I am OK with it.
My friend sent me a link to this little tidbit and it affirmed what I had suspected: attracting hate is as much a part of having a profile online as attracting praise. It simply goes with the territory. I don’t attract any more or any less hatred than anyone else who puts themselves out there. In fact, as worried as I was about the iPad stunt drawing lots of negative attention… it didn’t. The response was overwhelmingly positive. The only real trolling I got was from people who… follow me around to troll me.
I have always been interested in the psychology of bullying. There are a lot of people I don’t respect. There are a lot of people I have no time for, because, let’s be honest… there are people who are a waste of space and oxygen. But they are also a waste of my energy, so I don’t bother. And I certainly don’t have time to be following them online just to harass them!
To be that motivated by hate has to come from somewhere. Good ol’ Wikipedia summarises it best. Their behaviour is not about me. It’s about what I bring out in others. They hate my caricature. They hate my persona.
They can’t possibly hate me, the person, because they don’t know me.
It’s a liberating thought.
I have always set out to piss people off a little. The Perth Business “networking” scene is very conservative. Say the word “cunt” and they’re all of a dither. I once presented at a Social Media Panel for these people… and all they could fixate on was the language. I was asked how I “get away with swearing online”. Yeah. I was asked that and I am still gobsmacked by it.
The conformists struggle to get that one can be clever and also swear. And one can also use those words deliberately. And the fact that they are so focused on the words, rather than the intent, just goes to show how they really… just don’t get it. Much like those who thought the iPad thing was about me wanting a husband. Let’s be honest… they’re not bright people.
I say the things I do primarily to get a response. It is a predictable and measured response. The number of times I have been told, condescendingly, to “behave”… that’s just not what I do. I am happy to alienate those who are that superficial, or conformist, or even that dumb. I am happy not fitting into the Perth Business clique. I believe that these ideas about “behaving” or “shutting up” or “not making waves”… have strong sexist overtones. And, as a feminist and a philosopher… “behaving” is just not compatible with those core views.
I love Germaine Greer. And Gloria Steinhem. And Nellie McKay. And George Carlin. And Doug Stanhope. And Ricky Gervais. They push the right buttons and all have their haters as a result. If I can produce something that is even 1% of the influence these people have had on me, pissing a few people off is worth it. Because, like them, I enjoy the rise I get out of those I deliberately poke. Because their attitudes are oppressive.
Carlin, Stanhope, Greer… all have people who LOVE them. And people who HATE them. Very few people are indifferent about them. And they have all caused, in some way, revolutionary change despite having vast number of people who hate them.
There are people who hate Oprah Winfrey. There are people who hated Mother Teresa, for fuck’s sake.
I am not likening myself to Oprah or Mother Teresa. Because that’s just retarded. But, I am highlighting the fact that anyone who has ever stood up for anything, attracts hatred from the status quo. Even on a small scale.
So, my realisation is that my number of detractors is as much a reflection of my success as are those who say nice things.I can’t remember if it was Greer or Steinhem who said that receiving death threats is a sign you are a threat to the establishment… but on some level this applies. I consciously piss off the right people. And they are most welcome to sit around, slagging me off at Media140 Perth (ironically, while I am all over the media for proving the strength of social media). Because it comes back to me. And I laugh at the small mindedness. And I know that there are people there who know me, get me and laugh at it.
Because, the fact that people are talking about me at all, positively or negatively, is a sign that I am making an impact. And ultimately, reflects badly on those whose time in power is running out. Technology is killing the top-down control of people. A big portion of corporate board time is mistakenly asking the question “HOW CAN WE CONTROL PEOPLE”. It’s dying.
I like to think that eventually there will be a world where ridiculous notions of “behaving” to fit in will die. PR spin will die. People’s humanity, and honesty will be taken as something to be celebrated rather than suppressed. We all poo. We all fart. Stop treating humanity as a character flaw. And then maybe, we can actually stop with the bullshit. Stop firing someone for having a few drinks and tweeting when they are off the clock. Stop being so goddamn afraid of your boss. That’s truly revolutionary.
If I can contribute just a little to breaking down these ridiculous structures, and remind people that it is OK to express yourself… then I am OK with being hated.
All the fun people have haters, and it’s more about accepting that as a part of having an opinion.