I’ve sort of known this for a while, but part of building yourself (or your writing, music, whatever) as a popular brand and successful business, not only involves building an audience that likes you work, but also an audience that hates you.
I certainly wouldn’t say that you should go out of your way to get a group of people to hate you, but I think that part of the organic process of building a fanbase almost necessitates ending up with a group (sometimes of the same size) that hates you just as much. If people are willing to spend the time hating you, as much as others are willing to spend the time liking you, then something you’re doing is working.
Because as we all know, there’s nothing worse that simply being ignored.
This came to mind reading about the hoo-haa surrounding Boing Boing’s decision to remove posts from a previously friendly contributor and the online controversy this has caused. To a certain extent, sure, a blog can do whatever they like with their own stuff, but I think that the issue here is hypocracy — Boing Boing are the first to complain about censorship, revisionism and this sort of behaviour that gives your audience no respect online, so they should be called on it.
However, running a few links on the topic brings me to a thread on Metafilter (another smaller but notable hipster blog) that I can only call “the other side of the Internet”. I’ve always seen generally high opinions of Boing Boing and the people behind it, and they’re award-winning authors, journos and the like, but on Metafilter the dark hatred for Boing Boing is suddenly in focus. Hatred for everything the site does, hatred for the individuals, hatred for their obsessions and their associates.
While I agree with a few of the statements there, I don’t agree with most — but it’s fascinating to see the process in action. Boing Boing is read and lauded by millions every day, so it only makes sense that up to as many again hate it with a passion. Whether it’s jealousy, reasoned argument or just different tastes, that is how things should be.
It’s something to keep in mind anytime you read hatemail sent to your sit. Use it to your advantage 🙂