Success (or: people will want you down)

We’ve all seen it, and heard it – “Haters gonna hate” or some other assertion implying with a degree of success comes a degree of attacks on you. It may be in the form of jealousy, envy, or plain old rejection of you and all you represent.

I’ve been close to several such situations in the last few months, and what seems to be working for the different people involved is the following:

  • Group up. Not appearing alone is just as important as not actually being alone – lonely people make easier, more vulnerable targets. This works both in the virtual and the physical world.
  • Ignore when possible. Or just give the cold shoulder.
  • Respond when you must – but not directly. Replying to someone publicly is giving them power they don’t deserve and probably don’t even have. They’re attacking you for your success, remember? It’s best to put their intentions into relief and shut them out of your life in as many ways as possible. Try to always respond with poise – whomever loses their temper loses the game.
  • Use law enforcement as soon as possible. There are likely to be laws against harasment in your area. If you’re being harassed in the digital realm, it’s particularly easy to gather data on that harassment. Setting things in motion is a good thing – you may need to get people locked up at some point, and having an ongoing process is better than starting one when you’re already at the point of receiving physical aggression threats.
  • Look up slander and libel laws – maybe you can get some of your harassers on those counts. Setting an example like that isn’t a fun ordeal to go through with, but it’s better than spending time in uncertainty.
  • If you are in physical danger do not hesitate to get help from the authorities, friends, and anyone who can help out.

In the end, there are many nuances to every situation, and they can be emotionally charged, to the point of making you depressed. Having someone to vent with and talk about how to take the abuse helps.

No matter what you do, don’t stop working unless your physical security is in jeopardy. The people who want to drag you down would win, and we’d all lose from valuable work.

Last, but not least, I couldn’t aspire to be a rationalist if I didn’t advise you to try and understand their point of view; try to argue their side for them. Try to find any lessons to learn in their point of view: If the truth comes from a dirty, unseemly place, it’s still truth, and you can still get better.

If there are no lessons, which is especially likely in emotionally charged situations like ideological or political battles where logical arguments may be nonexistent, that’s OK. If there are, learn – and still take care of yourself. Please, don’t give up – we need more people working to make the world a better place.

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