Thank You, Dear Haters

I am famous on Vine. And I love my haters.

Don’t worry, this isn’t a “turn your haters into motivators” post. Let’s be clear: as human beings, I do not find hateful Internet commenters particularly motivating or even interesting, and I wouldn’t want to come within a square mile of their offline real-world lives. Also, in case it isn’t obvious, I don’t enjoy reading any evil unrestrained homophobic comments. But, at the end of the day, I love the haters. Or maybe it’s more accurate to say I’m thankful for them.

Talk to the hand, then high-five me haters.

You see, I’m quite queer. Also, I’m gender different, and that is a special sin on the Internet. No, wait, it’s more than that. To be queer and popular is often an affront on the Internet. To be queer and popular and happy means you’ve created a horrible hell for haters. I’m queer, I’m popular, and I’m happy so, shall we say…I drive hater engagement. It’s almost as if a hater couldn’t possibly avoid typing “kill yourself, f*gg*t” on every single thing I post. They’re compelled! And, this isn’t a bad thing. I’m not complaining.

You see, haters actually help. They have no idea it’s happening, but in two gloriously important ways, they help:

Reacting to Hate Is a Huge Part of My Message: I get emails and tweets all the time from people who are heartened by what I do. And often it’s not just that they like my videos; it’s that they are amazed by the hate I get and how I react. Perhaps it’s better to say ‘how I don’t react’. It’s really changing people’s lives to see me post a video and get a ton of hate and post another video the next day (and get a ton of hate and post another video the next day, etc., forever). This tells my fans that, although they might get hate in their own lives, they don’t need to stop doing the things they love. Thank you, haters, for helping me teach that hate is irrelevant.

My Posts Are More Popular Because of Hate: In social media, popularity is everything. I kinda joked earlier that I “drive hater engagement.” Behind this bit of media-speak is a deep truth. Largely because of haters, what I post never goes unnoticed. I never post a video that gets a blasé reaction. Yes, yes, I get a ton of love on Vine, of course, and for that I am eternally grateful. But, all the hate I get is something to be grateful for too, because user engagement and numbers and “dialogue” are so important in the social media world. Thank you, haters, for making my posts really popular on the Vine app and in search engines. You helped me reach more people with my message!

Ok. It’s not all positive. I wouldn’t wish Internet hate on anyone. I went through some dark months navigating it all, finding ways to deeply care for myself while being exposed to the most outrageously vile and evil things people posted about me. It’s still something I struggle with today. I limit my exposure to the hate in any way that I can. I don’t read comments. I avoid scrolling to the bottom of the internet. It’s true, if you’re going to be Internet-popular, you’ve got hate coming. If you’re going to change lives with your message, you’ve got hate coming. It’s horrible. But it isn’t ALL horrible. In key ways, the haters are actually helping — they are doing their part to make me popular. And for that, I couldn’t thank them enough.