A very benevolent friend of mine is greatly troubled by what she characterizes as “the horrid haters on Facebook.” These purveyors of ill will, hostility, and bigotry have taken much of the joy from her social media experience. As she is a radiant being, her departure from this venue would be a loss to all.
Let us give some thought to the motives and goals of these horrid haters. In part, such people may simply be semi-literate throwbacks who are so invested in their ignorance that they think they are in the know. In this dazed and confused situation, the horrid haters then proceed to spew their venom onto the readily accessible social media platform. Regardless of their protestations, such people are easily identified. They regularly attack some other group of people whom they insist are an inferior and often dangerous other. These may be brown skinned, Spanish speaking children, or they may be LGBT citizens, atheists, African-Americans or the poor. No matter the target group, the horrid haters speak of them with disdain; they post images which demean the targets of their fury; they present evidence that is fabricated, false, fallacious, or wildly misconstrued. Although they are intellectually sloppy and linguistically challenged, the horrid haters are fervently serious. They posture as defenders of all that is good and precious and scorn anyone who refuses to rush to the barricades.
The proper response to these people is usually a four step process. First, succinctly rebut what they say. Second, await the outraged reply. Third, inform them that insults are not information, epithets are not evidence, and accusations are not argument. Fourth, unfriend them if they come back with more bile. The first three steps are necessary because silence in the face of hateful speech or heinous deeds can be too easily mistaken for assent. We must not assent to the efforts of these deranged individuals to poison the social discourse and subvert social media for their own misanthropic purposes.
The goals of the horrid haters derive from their motives. For such boorish people, most of the world is a constant refutation of their feverishly held convictions. They fiercely want the world to conform to their malignant view. If they can capture any social media platform for their own, then they can revel in the voluminous reinforcement they gain each time they go online. For example, if one believes that African-Americans are dangerous, deceitful, threatening, beings longing to rape white women and murder white men, reading words and viewing images that assert or depict this thesis are gratifying endeavors. Because the horrid haters derive much of their energy from the anger and alarm generated by their fearful, resentful, hostile feelings toward those they demonize, each calumnious castigation or defamatory depiction ramps up their frenzy. If they could succeed to their fullest ambition, the horrid haters would achieve a devastated world in which they and their cohorts reigned supreme much as Lucifer was said to reign in Hell rather than serve in Heaven.
Consequently, we who believe in freedom, justice, equality, and comity must not rest. We must speak out. We must stand up. We must care enough to demand the very best of ourselves and our compatriots. If we fail to do so, then like bystanders to bullying, we are accessories to the sacking of our civilization and the theft our birthright. We must never forget that hate sows the whirlwind it will ultimately reap.
Hate surely sears a yawning hole;
In the precise center of one’s soul.
It destroys everything it can reach
No matter what creed it may purport to preach.
Hate’s shriveled heart won’t have the power
To propel us toward our finest hour
No matter the scheme, intent, or plan
Hate makes of all, a steaming, twisted, worthless sham.