Trolls and haters are just badly behaved fans



This past year has seen an explosion of haters and trolls, largely fed by the angry left.

But I’ve been reading about how they are just really badly behaved fans.

Maria Popova explains:

In an immeasurably insightful entry from 1847, 34-year-old Kierkegaard observes a pervasive pathology of our fallible humanity, explaining the same basic psychology that lurks behind contemporary phenomena like bullying,trolling, and the general assaults of the web’s self-appointed critics, colloquially and rather appropriately known as haters.

Kierkegaard writes:

There is a form of envy of which I frequently have seen examples, in which an individual tries to obtain something by bullying. If, for instance, I enter a place where many are gathered, it often happens that one or another right away takes up arms against me by beginning to laugh; presumably he feels that he is being a tool of public opinion. But lo and behold, if I then make a casual remark to him, that same person becomes infinitely pliable and obliging. Essentially it shows that he regards me as something great, maybe even greater than I am: but if he can’t be admitted as a participant in my greatness, at least he will laugh at me. But as soon as he becomes a participant, as it were, he brags about my greatness.  

That is what comes of living in a petty community.

It is unlikely that Kierkegaard was aware of what would become known as the Benjamin Franklin Effect — the Founding Father formulated his famous reverse-psychology trick for handling haters — and yet he goes on to relay an anecdote that embodies it perfectly. He recounts coming upon three young men outside his gate who, upon seeing him, “began to grin and altogether initiated the whole gamut of insolence.” As he approached them, Kierkegaard noticed that they were smoking cigars and turned to one of them, asking for a light. Suddenly, the men’s attitude took a dramatic U-turn — the seemingly simple exchange had provided precisely that invitation for participation in greatness:

Instantly, all three doffed their hats and it would seem I had done them a service by asking for a light. Ergo: the same people would be happy to cry bravo for me if I merely addressed a friendly, let alone, flattering word to them; as it is, they cry pereat [he shall perish!] and are defiant… All it amounts to is play-acting. But how invaluably interesting to have one’s knowledge of human psychology enriched in this way.

Seven years later, shortly before his untimely death, he revisits the subject in a sentiment that explains with enduring insight the psychology of haters:

Showing that they don’t care about me, or caring that I should know they don’t care about me, still denotes dependence… They show me respect precisely by showing me that they don’t respect me.

Poor old Giovanni, Martyn Martin, LPrent, Scott, Kim, Laila, Danyl, Matt…and all their commenters, fanbois and hangers on…eat your heart out.

Your hate is really just wonky applause.





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  • Tom

    Ah that’ll be the ex wife’s family going on holiday.

  • mommadog

    Yes hate is born of envy and jealousy. If they cant have it themselves, whatever they deem “it” to be (popularity, fame, fortune, a better wristwatch) then they will throw a tantrum and hit out at it and/or try to take it.

  • Technomage

    Those troll dolls have an uncanny resemblance to the leader of the Labour Party!

  • 1951

    ‘It’s a form of envy’ also demonstrate clearly a ‘lack of maturity’.

  • spanishbride

    Wrongly Wrongson is a perfect example as he considered himself a friend of Cams for a while and indeed Cam worked with him. He was eager to pick Cam’s brains on how to sell his services better as a consultant and how to ask for more money etc as he lacked these skills as a died in the wool Socialist.He loved having Cam on his T.V show as he fully admitted that his viewing stats were much much higher when Cam was on the panel. He was quite happy to benefit form Cam’s existing readership as it was good for his show. When he then decided to say the most disgusting things about Cam on his show Cam stayed calm while on camera but then quit. WW then spent a few days begging Cam to come back, texts, e-mails and phone calls all of which Cam ignored. Now of course it is WW’s mission in life to take Cam down. Funny that.

  • Timebandit

    Those that can …do… those that can’t and are jealous that they can’t… Troll

  • caochladh

    I don’t know him/her, so I will hate him/her. I can’t understand this and I don’t want to understand, so I will hate it. I haven’t tried it and I don’t want to, so I will hate it… nauseum. So the cycle of hatred goes on perpetuated by the brain dead, lazy and uninformed.

    • Cadwallader

      “He has more than me,” so it follows I must hate him. To me this is the root of the politics of the left, also known as 1 The politics of envy: 2 The dance of the desperates: 3 The bible of entitlement. Little Angry is just another messiah heading the left on a race to the bottom.

  • Dog Breath

    In my entire life I have never hated any person. I will disagree, be disappointed, uncomfortable in the presence of some but never hate. I really struggle to understand anyone who describes their feelings towards someone as hate.