Haters Gonna Hate

Haters Gonna Hate

In YouTube, Facebook, and other online comment threads, you are bound to see the expression 'haters gonna hate'.  But what exactly is 'haters gonna hate', and what does it mean?


Voiced by Cheryl White

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We used to think the Internet would offer a platform for productive and democratic interactivity. The current ascendancy of online hate has dispelled those optimistic proclamations. The Internet audience is now subjected to a wide range of aggressive online behaviors, from flaming to trolling to cyberbullying to “crap-flooding” to hateblogging

Not that there haven't been any early indicators of these developments. Back in the 90s, a study on computer-mediated communication by sociologists Sproull & Kiesler revealed dominant characteristics of online behavior likely to cause adverse consequences. When engaged in collective discussion and/or decision-making through computer networks, people contribute more than they typically would in similar interactions offline. They freely question authority – any authority, including that of universally accepted social norms. And they are much, much ruder to one another than when face to face. This phenomenon has been dubbed the “Online Disinhibition Effect.”

The major implication of this study is that cybervictimization - in any form - is not a practice of a few, socially marginal individuals, but rather a widespread threat that has all the markings and the potential of an epidemic. The lack of face-to-face social constraints experienced by online users makes it increasingly appealing to succumb to online incivility.

Still, to this day there seems to be a certain lightheartedness among communication experts and legislators alike towards the disinhibition effect. “Haters gonna hate” appears to be the dominant attitude when it comes to researching the underlying nature of aggressive networked communicative practices. This limits opportunities to create a sound framework for action, interventions and regulation of hate online.