The Hater vs The Critic: Blogging Semantics

A few weeks ago there was an issue involving a blogger and an author. Not exactly a shock as I’ve learned since I started book blogging but I’m still surprised when these things happen. You can learn more about this particular issue over at CuddleBuggery’s Buzz Worthy News: 25th March 2013. This post, however, isn’t about this particular instance. It’s about what started this particular instance and many others like it.

What’s the common denominator? The confusion between being a hater and being a critic.

    The HATER

I like to think of myself as being street or at least was street at some point or knowing people who were and probably still are “street”. I grew up in a “tough” neighbourhood (as deemed by the media) and I guess it was to a degree but not as bad as it was made out to be. The point of bringing up my history of chillaxing in the hood is because it was in the hood where I first learned about “hater”. Hater is a slang word. It’s a made up word from the streets like many of the popular words we learned in our youths (Yet the moment we leave high school we’re “out of touch”. This is disheartening). Examples of these are “Nize It” which means Shut Up, “Swagger” which means how one presents themselves to the world (this is now in the dictionary as an actual word!) etc. Slang can also be words that are given new meanings such as “sick” which would mean good/cool instead of it’s traditional meaning of being ill (not to confuse this with “ill” which can also mean cool in slang terms).

So what does “Hater” mean? Hater means

  • A person that simply cannot be happy for another person’s success. So rather than be happy they make a point of exposing a flaw in that person.
  • Hating, the result of being a hater, is not exactly jealousy. The hater doesn’t really want to be the person he or she hates, rather the hater wants to knock [someone else] down a notch.

Thank you Urban Dictionary for the definition.

So if you’re being a hater, it means you have no real supporting reasons for why you’re saying something negative about someone. It means you’re being negative for the sake of being negative. This, ladies and gents, is not cool. This is when the person behind the negative comments are at fault and are being irrational or/and cruel. Are there people like this in blogging? Yeah. Just as there are mean people in the general populace, there are mean people in blogging.

This role of hater isn’t always on the blogger’s side of the court. It can also be found on the author’s or industry professional’s side of the court. Usually when responding to a blogger’s critical analysis.

    The CRITIC

I don’t have a fascination story that accompanies this definition sadly so I’ll get straight into it. A critic is

  1. a person who judges, evaluates, or criticizes: a poor critic of men.
  2. a person who judges, evaluates, or analyzes literary or artistic works, dramatic or musical performances, or the like, especially for a newspaper or magazine.
  3. a person who tends too readily to make captious, trivial, or harsh judgments; faultfinder.

Thank you for the definition.

The last definition may sound like being a hater and it is. I guess you can say that it’s “the legit” version of the term but it’s also the extreme version of being a critic. The definitions that I’m focusing on are the first 2. When critiquing something, you are looking at the ways in which it fell short and, more importantly, how it can improve. Do you have to add the part about the improvement? No. Although, it would be nice so that the person behind that piece can learn from it and it’ll put you one step farther from going into hater territory. For me, however, the critic is different from the hater because the critic is offering actual evidence and reasons for why they liked or disliked something. You can tell when someone is being a hater when their issues appear to be more like grasping a straws rather than having actual thought put into it. That’s the difference.

    What About Snark?

First off, let’s define it. Snark is a slang word that combines the words “snide” and “remark”. It’s basically a sarcastic comment that tends to have malice although I find that it’s not necessarily the case (you can check out the definition at Urban Dictionary). Snark gets trickery. When is it good or bad? It’s hard to say. It’s like asking when a joke goes too far or when the receivers of the joke are being too sensitive. It’s to be evaluated on a case by case basis.

Bloggers use snark to give their posts some personality and make it fun for readers. Most of the snarky reviews and posts that I’ve seen haven’t been unfair or malicious. They’re fun, give legitimate reasons for what they find troubling and tend to have rules about where they draw the line (you can check out my post on Critiquing Etiquette for these types of rules).

I get why authors would be upset. As a creative individual, I know that I get super emotional when someone gives a straight critique of my work so a snarky review would have me go ballistic despite it being harmless or/and knowing, intellectually, that there are grounds for their issues with my work. Guess what? No matter how upset you are or feel that you’re in the right for being upset, YOU DON’T BRING YOUR GRIEVANCES ONLINE. If I sent emails to those who critiqued my work when I was pissed, I’d have fewer friends, create a blood feud that could possibly last generations or get kicked out of my creative writing class (My cousin reads some of my work which explains the blood feud). This is why people say be careful when you post compromising photos on facebook or complain about your boss on twitter. These things will bite you in the ass later on.

    Authors: Think Hater versus Critic when you read reviews. Try taking a couple of days away from the post to simmer before reading it again or have someone else read it to give you some objective insight. Most importantly, don’t writing angry posts/tweets but instead opt for a more old school alternative: complaint to your friends when you go out.

    Bloggers: Please try to remember Hater versus Critic as well. Ask yourself: Is this a legitimate claim or is there no basis for this? Am I being objective? When snarking, am I going too far?

A. A. Omer

7 thoughts on “The Hater vs The Critic: Blogging Semantics

  1. Everything about this. There’s a line. It must be drawn. I am very hard on myself when giving negative reviews – I re-read them over and over to make sure that what I’m saying it criticism over just subjective negativity. Definitely a good reminder.

    Also, can authors PLEASE start checking themselves a little bit? The internet is not private. And it’s incredibly unprofessional to post a bad review and hate all over it. Geez.

  2. As a writer, I take both haters and critics in stride. (I’ve had people call me crazy, warn populations of men to stay away from me, etc.) I am a fervent believer in freedom of speech. As a critic, my job is to serve readers by being honest and fair.
    But being a novelist, I like to be supportive of my fellow scribes, so if I have a serious criticism about a book, I might send the author a private email rather than spew it all online for the world’s eyes.

  3. This is a really interesting, but important, distinction that I think few people make. There is definitely a difference between writing something for the sake of being mean and writing something because you believe it to be true. I know I have written things in the past, only to press the delete key, because I wasn’t adding to the conversation in a meaningful way – I was just saying something to be mean, and nobody wants that; it’s a fine line, but those of us who are in this community need to learn how to walk it. Great post!

  4. I absolutely agree with this post. I’m a critical reviewer with an occasional tendency to snark, but I make sure to know the difference between critiquing and trashing, and between disliking a book and disliking its author. That’s a line that seems to get crossed too often, and results in a lot of unfortunate Blogger Vs. Author scenarios that are just messy all around.

    Ultimately, I think it’s important for reviewers to refrain from crossing over into hater territory if only so when they’re faced with a case of Attack Of The Author on their blog, they can know it was unprovoked and uncalled for, and keep their hands clean in the resulting verbal battles.

    Of course, the world would be a much better place if both parties could behave, I don’t know, professionally (especially authors, because they actually are professionals. We’re generally just hobbyists), but that’s probably never going to happen.

    Great post!

  5. Very interesting post, I never broke it down it to hater v critic before. I have very clear distinctions in my head about reviewing the book versus reviewing the author. I think adding hater v critic into the mix will be helpful too. Hopefully authors will take note too!

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