Next Friday I will be giving the Keyonte at the Metropolitan Community Colleges of Kansas City Leadership conference. This is like coming home for me because I worked at MCC for almost 5 years years ago. This is going to be a fun time#ALLMYHATERSKNOW
I recently had the opportunity to speak with a great reporter from the Atlanta Journal Constitution about the "BE A HATER" book and movement. After our discussion she wrote up a great article about my thoughts on Taylor Swift and Gucci Mane. Check out the link below. It is in the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
Check out my new interview on threadinglist.com website. I talk about the books that shape me
Wes Parham: Reading List | The Reading Lists
In this interview, author and organizational consultant, Wes Parham, discusses the books that have inspired and influenced his life and career.
I can't keep doing this,
I gave you everything that I had
My car and my gas,
my wallet my cash,
everything that you asked.
And all I wanted was to be
so tell me
Why are you so stingy....
The example that came to mind for me was my first car as a teenager. When I was 15 years old, recognizing that I would soon be driving I set out to secure a vehicle. My first car was a 1991 ford Taurus that I purchased from a family friend for $200. All of the windows in the car including the front and back windshield were broken out. The battery was dead and the engine needed a lot of work. But I knew that I had to get the car running. Not so that I could use it for transportation, but because I had purchased two 15-inch speakers and a 600-watt amplifier that I wanted to get wired up into the car. I was going to pair it with some internal lights that flashed when the bass played. And that way everyone would know that I was coming from a block away and see that “my ride was fly”. I had adopted this mindset because this was the approach that my friends and peers at the time had. A car was not for transportation it was for display. You had to show that you had one. As a lower income teenager, having a car in itself was an accomplishment, but having one that was “laid” was a win. I had to show that I had the money to buy the car and “lay it out”, because money’s purpose was to be spent. This lesson was never formally taught to me, but the conversations of my friends and peers at the time had subconsciously shaped the way that I viewed money and specifically my car. Fast forward to me sitting in a room years later listening to my colleague discuss the hidden rules of money. I looked back and recognized that for several years now I had not thought about spending money as something that is supposed to be done with money. In fact, I hated spending money. I no longer thought spending money on a car was cool. I thought not having a car payment and instead paying your car payment to your savings account was cool. The purpose of money for me at that point was to be managed not spent. Spending was a necessary evil, not a preferred way of utilizing money. It was far more important to save money or to figure out how to decrease expenditures. These were the thoughts that I now had. At that moment I recognized that I had not been formally taught these ideas and beliefs either. I had adopted them just by nature of them being the prevalent ideas in the discourse and exchanges that were happening around me. I myself was impacted by the hidden middle class rules, silently, implicitly, and without my consent. I was “inceptioned”.
Let me begin by saying that this is not like the typical letter you receive. I know that you may be hesitant to read this letter because of the abuse, scorn, and downright meanness that people have displayed to you in written letters like this one. But let me assure you that is not the purpose of this letter. This is a THANK YOU NOTE.
To be clear I am not thanking all of you. I know that some of you are truly hateful individuals who want to bring down others. And to you I will have to write a different letter. But this letter is for those who have been labeled a “hater” for dissenting. It is for:
- The mother who was called a hater for not wanting her child to date an unqualified bum of a man or an unsupportive, manipulative, unambitious (or wrong ambitions) type of woman
- For the sports fan who is called a hater for explaining why Jordan (or Lebron if you are under 25) is the best basketball player alive
- For the person who dared to say they didn’t like another persons shoes and were called a hater for it
- For the person who wanted to eat somewhere different from the rest of the group.
- For the person who held their ethics when everyone else wanted to cheat
- For the person who explained why a plan won’t work after everyone else decided it would
- For the person who doesn’t like spaghetti
- For the person who dared to have a different political party from their friends or family
- For the person called a hater for not liking a musical artist
- For the person who said that Big Bird is cooler than Elmo
To all of you I say THANK YOU!! Thank you for your dissent that leads to Janusian Thinking and creativity. Thank you for your disclosing observations that stop negative information cascades and tyranny. Thank you for your caring heart. Caring enough to express to those you care about where you differ. (Check out Be A Hater: A Polemic on the Hater Mindset for more). Thank you for being… well …A HATER (since that’s what culture calls it).
I know that in today’s world this has been hard for you. In this world where people can’t stand disagreement or dissent. Where to them these things are as bad as hating. So in this midst of this crazy world, let this small letter from one hater to another serve as encouragement for you. I see you hater. KEEP DOING YOUR THING J
For More on Haters check out
BE A HATER: A Polemic on the Hater Mindset
What is a hater?
I am always fascinated by the answers I get to this question. It is not that the answers are surprising. Actually, they are the expected answers.
“A Hater is someone that doesn’t want you to succeed.”
“A hater is someone that is always trying to sabotage you.”
“A hater is somebody who is always jealous of what you have.”
“A hater is someone who wants to be you.”
What I find fascinating about these answers is that they are not true. Or not entirely true. While I’m sure that there is some segment of contemporary culture that uses the word hater with the meanings listed above, the definitions above would only account for a small percentage of the use of the word Hater in our everyday culture.
Think about the times that we use the word hater. In most cases it has nothing to do with jealousy, or hindering someone else. I was once called a hater by a student for explaining to him that not having the most expensive shoes ( he had Nike’s instead of Jordan’s on) in high school was only a fraction of his life and should not bring him down. I was in no position to be jealous of the student ( I’ve been through high school already, and though it may have been fun, I certainly am not jealous of those still in it), and I also wasn’t trying to hold him back or stop him from succeeding. And the idea that telling him about shoes is sabotaging him, in my mind is just crazy (although I know some of you fashion people think it is sabotage).
In truth what he was saying, and what most people are saying when they call someone a hater is that I had a perspective that was different than the one he was holding. I was dissenting from his currently held view. This is what today’s culture really thinks a hater is. Not someone who is trying to bring down or sabotage you, but someone who dissents from your current view. A Hater is:
A person who holds a position, opinion, view, or perspective that is different from the position, opinion, view, or perspective that you currently hold.
This is the real definition of a hater in our culture, and this definition has major implications for the way that we live, function, and behave as individuals and as a culture.
For more on this Check out my book
Be A Hater: A Polemic on the Hater Mindset being released January 15,2018
The first of the two experiences to put me on the path of haterhood began with “Twilight”. Not at twilight, but with Twilight. Twilight being the immensely popular movie and book series that emerged in the early 2000’s and subsequently released several films from 2008-2012. And while millions of people flooded theaters to be direct witnesses of the love story that was Bella, Edward, and Jacob, my experience with the films can only be described as hearsay at worst and second hand at best. Although I never graced the theater to see any of the films, at the time the movies were being made both my career and community involvements required that I spend an immense amount of time with teenagers. And though I may have missed the Twilight train, the teenagers I worked with had not. In fact, I would argue that anyone who worked with teenagers at the time was sure to have been inundated with endless discussions of the twilight films, to the point that it was almost impossible to avoid having at least a cursory understanding of the series and its characters. And this is exactly where I found myself during this time period being besieged with stories and debates about Edward, Bella, and Jacob.
My job at the time was working as a life skills teacher and life coach for one of the largest nonprofits in the state of Missouri. In this position, I was responsible for the development and subsequent instruction of a life skills curriculum for a cohort of 7th, 8th, and 9th graders, with whom I met with daily. My ultimate goal in this position was to help equip these students with skills and attributes that would help them succeed in the real world. The topics we covered ranged from leadership and responsibility to relationships and integrity. Simultaneously, outside of work, I was engaged with a local church in town to develop and teach curriculum to their youth group. I would meet with these students at least twice a week to cover many of the same topics that I would discuss with my cohort of students from work. Between these two different roles, my life consisted of constantly thinking about teenagers and their development, and trying to ensure that they had healthy perspectives in preparation for life. Enter Twilight.
Anyone who has ever worked with teenagers quickly learns that the informal conversations with teenagers are often more impactful than any formal instruction and dialogue. My mother, who had extensive experiences with teenagers herself through my siblings and I and our constant groups of friends at the house, phrased it this way “teenagers don’t care about how much you know, until they know how much you care”. Believing this statement and using it as the lens by which I engaged with my teens, it was only natural that I began to pay attention when discussions of “Team Edward” or “Team Jacob” began to waft through the air as I interacted with my students each day. It wasn’t long before I would find myself sitting on the side of an impassioned debate about two boys, Edward and Jacob, competing for the love of a girl, Bella. My interest was piqued by watching how enthralled students were with these books and the films, especially the teenage young ladies. Eventually, after listening to several conversations I found that the allure of the story for the teenage ladies was the “loving relationship” between Edward and Bella.
Edward was the 21st century reimagining of a vampire. He didn’t melt in the sunlight but instead his skin shined when illuminated by the rays of the sun, he didn’t seek out humans to kill for their blood but instead used bags of blood that came from one place or another to feed his hunger. He wasn’t menacing but was portrayed as reserved. In essence, he represented a stark departure from the archetype of a vampire in the 20th century. In addition to his departure from the historical vampire archetype, he was also imbued with all of the qualities that typically reside in the quintessential Romeo character of stories. He had a strong sense of justice and responsibility and was positioned as the good man warring against the darkness present in the world. Bella on the other hand, was portrayed as more of your normal molded teenager. She was not outgoing, but she was not shy. She was smart, but not a nerd. She wasn’t the coolest girl at school, but she was also not the complete outcast. She occupied a space somewhere in between the cool kids and the outcast. The space where most teenagers believe themselves to be. This made her character easily accessible and relatable. While Jacob is also key to the Twilight story, he does not have a relevant part in my Twilight experience and thus I have left him out. However, if you would like to know more about him you can probably easily still Netflix the Twilight movies, or stop the nearest 20-30 year old and ask them, were they Team Jacob or Team Edward, and learn all you would like to know.
The intersection between the Twilight series and my hater journey occurred one day as I was listening to a group of my teenage female students discussing Edward and Bella. On this day, the young ladies shared with me that the draw of Edward and Bella’s story was that Edward wanted to suck Bella’s blood more than he has wanted to suck any humans blood before but because he “loves her” , HE WON’T SUCK HER BLOOD. In this statement the ladies summarized the romance that had won so many teens over. A blood-sucking vampire wants to suck the blood of a teenage girl, but out of love he won’t do it. This paragon of affection and pinnacle example of love was that the vampire would not eat her. The love that so many teenagers had found amazing and enthralling, this was it in a nutshell. I watched the faces of the teenagers I was talking with as they described the beauty of Edward and Bella’s love, and described how they wanted a love like that. And while their faces were filled with joyous expression as they described this situation, I was facing a paradox of emotion. I wanted to laugh at the hilarity of the concept but at the same time, I was slightly saddened, by the implications I believed were being drawn from this “love story”. As I listened I recognized that these young ladies were essentially granting brownie points and attributing love to a man for NOT HURTING THE WOMAN HE LOVES. Not for his attentiveness to her needs, his ability to be able to recognize her unique beauty, his support for her as she changes and grows, or anything else. But instead, for NOT HURTING HER. That is essentially what it means for a vampire to want to eat someone but to choose not to. He is choosing to not hurt her.
I don’t know if it was the burden I felt I carried to make sure that the teens I interact with were prepared for the world, and thus had healthy views of relationships. Or if it was the fact that I had recently been trying to help a couple of young ladies to think differently about abusive relationships they were in, but in either case I wanted to address this point with the teenage ladies I was talking with. And so I took the time to comically state my observation to them.
“You know you are saying this a good relationship because he wants to eat her but won’t right?” I stated. “You don’t get brownie points for not eating someone. That’s like saying, ‘girl I know he loves me so much, because he wants to hit me but won’t.’ That’s not love. You don’t get brownie points for that. You girls have to demand more than that. If that’s all you are asking for we are in bad shape!”
My statement while mixed with humor and sarcasm was meant to evoke some conversation, dialogue, or debate. I was hoping that the young ladies I was conversing with would at least ponder on the statements I said, or affirm to me that they do demand more in their relationships, or even combat my point with counterarguments. However, what I got instead I came to view as a far worse reaction. One of the young ladies simply turned to me and said “Mr. Wes, you a hater!” After which we all laughed, I made a few more jokes and they continued the conversation about Edward.
It wasn’t until later as I had begun to see the use of the term hater in our society as a problem that I recognized what had happened in that moment. By simply stating that I was a hater, the ladies in the group had completely dismissed my point. And I don’t mean dismissed in the critical thinking/debate sense. The dismissal that requires the allocating of emotional and cognitive weight to counter-evidence and discovering that counter-evidence is sufficient to refute whatever assertion is being made. But I mean dismissed as in never considered, evaluated, or compared. Dismissed as in no attempt at internalization or consideration. The point that I was making was never even discussed, acknowledged, countered, or validated. It never came back up in the conversation. It was essentially ignored. It was as if the idea never existed. At the time I didn’t give it any thought because the situation was one where I was just joking around with some of my teenage students. The conversation didn’t seem important. But as I began to be intentional about viewing the way that classifying a person as a hater is used in contemporary society, I began to recognize that this situation is actually indicative of a larger phenomenon in our society, and one that I don’t think is taking us in the right direction. That phenomenon is the using of the hater classification as a way to ignore disagreement. This was the first observation and catalyst that launched me on my journey toward becoming a hater.