Imaginary Haters and The Real Way of Hate

There’s no greater proof of this generation’s narcissism than its fabrication of imaginary “haters” to make it feel more important.

A whole segment of music and culture submit to this ridiculous ideal: That someone is out there, and that someone hates us for simply being so awesome. Artists like Kanye West have carved a sizable niche from the music market based on this assumption. Their pointed lyrical message to all the haters resonates with the cultural masses. “These envious faceless hordes can’t just be happy for my success…Haters!”

But I doubt it. I don’t doubt that you’re awesome (I’m sure your mom believes you are), but I doubt that someone literally despises you for being you. Or “doing you.” Or however those cool kids say it.

I’ve taught and coached high school age youth for a few years now and nothing is more ingrained in their combative psyche than the prospect of their own personal mythical mass of haters. Having “haters” brings a level of street cred. These hate groups are scheming against them at school, fronting them at the mall, and subtweeting them on Twitter. Those #oomfs are always up to something. Apparently, it’s a full-time occupation being a playa hata.

Kids used to have imaginary friends. Now they have imaginary haters.

Here’s a revelation: All these mean folks probably aren’t “hating” on us. I bet, for the most part, they’re just being people. They’re having a terrible day, they’re busy, they’re self-absorbed, or they may not even know we exist. They may simply have never been taught basic manners or social skills. But it’s doubtful they are preoccupied with all-consuming hatred towards us. That angry glare they were giving was probably directed inward at a bad memory, not at what we were wearing.

Believe it or not: The world and its hatred doesn’t revolve around us and our awesomeness.

People just don’t hate much anymore. At least not in the red-faced loathing sense. That requires too much passion. Too much emotional investment. To really hate something, we have to actually care first.

The hatred we’re more likely to experience, and express, is the hatred of shrugging neglect. We’re apathetic slackers with other people’s lives. With souls. With images of God with interesting stories and deep hurts and unique gifts.

We hate with pitiful indifference when we don’t treat humans as humans. As truly unique and truly interesting. As fellow bearers of an immortal flame housed in fading tents. That Imago Dei is still deeply loved and cherished by the original One who created it. They’re worth time and conversations and coffee and eye contact.

So in a sense

Don’t hate.

but also

let’s not accept the desperate narcissistic cultural stance of being “hated” on either.


Bryan Daniels

Author: Bryan Daniels

I am a follower of Jesus, a husband to Jessica, and a father of three boys: Josiah, Gideon and Judah. I teach high school math as a job, read reformed theology as a hobby, and write this blog just for kicks. With the rest of my time I coach football and track.

2 thoughts on “Imaginary Haters and The Real Way of Hate”

  1. I Googled “imaginary haters” to see if anyone had thought about this before – and here you are! I agree wholeheartedly – it is amusing though 🙂

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