Do haters really need to hate?

When I started creating art for myself a few years ago, I never showed my work. A few friends saw it when they came to visit but outside of that, it didn’t see the light of day.

Now I should clarify and say that yes, I went to art school in my 20s. I’ve been painted for a long time. But there was a gap of about ten years where I didn’t create anything. Coincidentally, I had infants and toddlers at the time… I think it’s fair to blame my kids for this one. ha

So when I emerged from my parenting cocoon, or torment if you will, I was in a very vulnerable place with my art. Not sure if I had lost my skills. Not sure what I wanted to do with my art, if anything. I was already well established as a programmer by that point so I didn’t need my art to do anything.

I had a friend who shoved me out the door. MADE me show my work. And from there the snowball grew bigger. Three years ago I had 13 followers and they were all my friends.

Overcoming my fear of rejection and criticism happened over time and experience. I call the process of growing a thick skin, becoming anti-fragile.

But there’s still a bit of me that pauses before I paint live. I wonder if the piece will turn out. If I still remember how to paint. If pulling back the hidden layers of art creation, MY art creation is worth it.

And sometimes that voice tells me to keep things closed. Don’t share. It’s too scary. Too sacred. Too private. Whatever.

And sometimes that voice is right but I go ahead anyway. Damn these things to the wind and share a process that ultimately fails.

I have a few more followers now. My failures happen in front of around 18k people give or take.

Of all those people, 17,999 are fantastic. Amazing. Wonderfully supportive people. One is not.

And this is where we get to my point – we’re in a society or culture right now that has opinions. We feel our value when we comment on things, good or bad. We really get our jollies off when we stir up shit. Rile people up.

I think it almost gives a validation. I matter because I made people pay attention to me.

Of course, people like that are dismissed as “haters gonna hate”. But do they really need to hate? I know enough about people to know that the hateful things that are said online are ALWAYS about the person saying them. Always.

So I wonder, if instead of saying something hateful or harmful or negative, that everyone takes a moment to pause and think about where that emotion is coming from. And how, instead of creating damage, you could create something good or thoughtful.

Because we’ve already seen how much damage hate can do in this world. One person at a time. Like an infection.

Each of us needs to turn this around. That we need to counter that hate with love and compassion. That if, instead of responding in a way that is a knee jerk reaction (or hell a jerk reaction), we reach out with kindness.

I usually respond to hate gently: “I’m so sorry you feel that way. I hope the rest of your day goes better for you!”

Never taking it in. Never putting the other person on the defensive. I don’t know if it helps but I do know I am not adding hate back into the world. That I’m taking a step back and doing my part to reduce it where possible.

The hate I got yesterday was about the above work in progress piece. A painting that I’m struggling with because it’s on black canvas. A surface I used a few years ago but haven’t really touched since so it’s been difficult to work with.

This hate isn’t going to stop me. It’s not going to change my direction. It’s not my problem.

But if you’re going to put something out in the world, especially to someone you don’t know, isn’t it so much nicer to make that something love?