What Haters Can Teach Us

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One day late last winter, while leaving the Summit House to head out onto the hill, I noticed a pair of skis stuck in the snow next to mine. They were covered in stickers, but the one that stuck out the most read “I Haters”.

Why would anyone love haters? I wondered as I skied away. Perhaps it was a joke. Or maybe the owner of the skis was a hater himself (or herself, whichever the case may be). According to Urban Dictionary, a hater is,

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.

I kept thinking about that sticker, and why someone would put it one their skis. It’s the equivalent of saying I Jealousy, or Bigotry, or Racism. The more I thought about it, the more I changed my mind. Perhaps loving haters is the answer! Maybe it’s like a zen koan, meant to make you think, meant to tell the world, “go ahead and hate me, it won’t change my opinion of myself.” Could be that the skier was at once confident but not cocky, willing to be open to even the most vile comments from others.

I’ll never know.

The more we put ourselves out there, the more we open ourselves to detractors. The sticker skier might have simply been spreading his arms open to whatever the world offered. That would have been very big of him.

Last week I wrote a post titled How to Beg Forgiveness from a Ski Patroller. Many of you commented, finding the post funny (as it was intended) and even informative (which it really wasn’t meant to be). A small few, however, hated it. I mean, they REALLY hated it. And hated me.

The article was quite popular, linked to numerously and pretty much went viral. You can go back and read the comments, if you like. I will say only one thing in defense of the article. It wasn’t written as a manifesto for “ass-kissing”. Those of you that know me or have been following along for a while know that I would never expect or even want someone to kiss my ass because I’m a ski patroller. Follow the rules, yes. Kiss my ass, no.

Several readers emailed me after they read the latest comments, telling me I should delete them. They didn’t have a place on my personal blog.

I thought about it.

I’ve written before about the importance of public discourse, using one’s real name on the web, and treating others with respect. Besides that, the attitudes expressed were, sadly, not uncommon enough at ski areas. So I left them up.

Perhaps haters can teach us something. I’ve preached about building a tolerance for adversity. What could be more adversarial than personal attacks on your own website? I don’t have to take it personally. I don’t have to tap off a nasty response, citing all the reasons why I’m right and they’re wrong. That’s just childish.

Soon I will write another post over at blogcrystal about why and how we keep terrain at Crystal closed. I’ve written about this before, but a refresher never hurts. I will keep these new blog readers in mind when doing so. Because in order to be fully open and offer up support for our actions on the patrol I need to remember that not everyone agrees with me.

That’s okay.

I’ve learned something about negativity. It can get to a person. As a writer, words gather just under my skin, merely fragile wisps of smoke waiting to burn, and a single puff of wind from the wrong direction can blow it out. Negative feedback can affect a person’s performance in other ways too. Entire engines of enthusiasm can be stopped by a single detractor.

Staying strong in the face of negativity isn’t easy. It’s tempting to gather friends and supporters around me like a blanket, bring them up to my chin and wait for the world to change. And while this kind of support can be helpful, it doesn’t always offer us opportunities to learn. Looking hard at ourselves and where we fit in the world is an action only we can take.

I’ve chosen to be open and vulnerable. I write about my life and my job and everything that I love on a blog and blast it out to the world. I wrote a book about it, for heaven’s sake. My mom would call this “character-building”, and she’s right. I call it building up a tolerance for adversity.

What do you call it?

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21 responses »

  1. As a person that is challenging the status quo and trying to creative positive change, I have been really surprised by the amount of haters that have emerged. For me personal, if I don’t agree with someone’s beliefs, I don’t usually comment at all. And I certainly don’t personally attack and hate on others.

    I find much of it occurs unanimously, and few Haters actually have the courage to post as themselves. I try my best to surround myself with a golden shield, and not let the Haters affect me.

    A wise guy once told me “If people you don’t know personal attack you, you must be doing something right”

    Thanks for writing about this real topic and small segment of the population.

  2. Kim, I call it Lovin those haters! If you have lots of haters you know you have something. That something could be a hot car in the parking lot which begs to be keyed. Could be a beautiful family or friends who you love and respect for all the good and wonderful things they do. Haters will always try and hate on good family and friends. Maybe the haters will hate on the job you actually enjoy going to every day…

  3. There is a saying, “When you throw a rock into a flock of sheep, the one that baahs the loudest is probably the one that got hit.” Keep up good work. Just stay true to you!

  4. You are so right, and I cosign with the commenters above. I’m glad you left those comments up, too! Hilarious! The anonymous commenters spent more time ranting and raving than you did in writing the original lighthearted article.

    My favorite part is Mr. Magic X-Ray Eyes “no need to dig a pit since I know what I’ll find there”. Sounds like with his gifts, he’s in demand as an avalanche forecaster all over the WORLD. If he was actually quoting a real conversation he had with a patroller, he is making himself sound like a real douche!

    I think you handled it all just fine. And you simply have to leave those comments up because they are so funny.

    • Jill said
      “My favorite part is Mr. Magic X-Ray Eyes “no need to dig a pit since I know what I’ll find there”. Sounds like with his gifts, he’s in demand as an avalanche forecaster all over the WORLD. If he was actually quoting a real conversation he had with a patroller, he is making himself sound like a real douche!”

      Now Jill, I don’t hate, I do however challenge as much as possible. The article did hit a nerve with me, But what you failed to observe in your above statement was the rest of my statement. I probably had a months worth of profiles already in my field book up until that very day. It’s a nice line that is an in bounds permanent closure. We all want a shot at it when it’s in. So read the rest of my comments before you call me “x-ray eyes”. I had a really good grasp on the snowpack at the time and probably more documentation on the area then the patrol did. I am 36 and knock on wood, I have still not been caught in a slide. That’s not to say I am invincible to the fact as I mentioned in another thread. So yeah, I was quoting a real conversation and in my opinion the Patroller made some very ignorant comments. I was asking the write the questions and I had documentation and experience to back it. I would never tell someone to base a decision on a pit, or to go dig a pit to see if they should ski something or not. You need quite a bit of information to go along with a profile, and your stability tests, not to mention years of experience to interpret your results and data, and these guys dug just one pit for their decision making process.

      Jill I have been teaching avalanche courses for over 10 years, If you would like to take one, I will gladly show you that you don’t need x-ray vision to interpret the snowpack, but a dedication to tracking it day in and day out. Yes sometimes we dig and need too, but when and why, and what other information are you supporting your discovery with.

      Here is what I wrote after the comment from the patroller.

      Patrol: They dug pits!!!!

      Skier: Oh wow, Why? I have been skiing the same aspects all around the pass and other side of Gnar cirque for about a month now, I don’t need to dig a pit right now because I can tell you what I am most likely to find there, and besides I would never use a pit to base my decision for my choice of terrain, but only to confirm what I am looking for. See I don’t like to dig unless I know what it is I am trying to find. I can sketch out a profile from the top of my head really quick for you in my field book if you would like me to speculate whats there based on what I know about the terrain, and similar data that I have collected in the area. Or if it’s cool with you I too will go up there and dig a pit if that means I can ski
      it too?

      Doesn’t sound like X-ray vision to me, but a very detailed and daily tracking of weather obs, and seasonal snowpack.

      And Kim I do have my own blog, LOL

      • Skiclimber,

        I applaud your efforts to stay active in this very old thread. And I’m glad to hear that you don’t use a pit to determine whether the terrain is safe. I dig pits, but I always keep in mind that the pit only tells me what’s happening in that spot. I think it was Bruce Tremper that said he had a photo of an entire path sliding–all but the area where he’d dug a pit and the reutschblock revealed a fairly stable snowpack. We use all the information available to us to determine safety. Plus, at a ski area, we have the benefit of skier compaction. Still, that’s no guarantee, but it’s the biggest weapon in our arsenal. Get skiers and riders on the snow as soon as possible and work-harden that snow into submission.

        Let’s all remember to treat others here on this thread with respect. That goes for everyone.

        As for you, Skiclimber, I checked out the URL you left for your blog http://www.patrolsucks.com. That’s a pretty lame URL, by the way, and I was glad to see it wasn’t a real one. But if you do have your own blog, that’s fine too. You probably don’t want to leave it here, as you might get a few trolls of your own.

        • Kim said
          “I think it was Bruce Tremper that said he had a photo of an entire path sliding–all but the area where he’d dug a pit and the reutschblock revealed a fairly stable snowpack.”

          I have the photo and have used it for educational purposes. I also have another amazing one from Ramsay Thomas that is just as impressive. I only mentioned how I felt about pits because of Jill’s comments and assumptions. They led me to believe she was trying to say something productive, but really doesn’t have much to base it on.

          Regardless, This thread about haters has come to life most likely in the wake of my responses in “how to beg for forgiveness” So funny, how this thread really is ironic in the sense because if gives folks a voice to hate the accused hater. It’s quite a circle.

          Many folks mentioned in your other thread that if you can upset people with your writing then your doing something right. And since they feel there is a hater, they attempt to hate back. So if what you write can get folks to write back, then I must of hit a nerve with folks much the way a nerve with me was hit from your initial post. So we all take our own beliefs to heart and are free to voice it however we choose. If you don’t want to hear it, then don’t run a public blog.

          I didn’t initially respond as a troll, but since I realized people were getting fired up, I decided to have my own fun with it. People encouraged you to continue to write if it could get someone wound up, and I felt the same. I thought, Wow, I got this person wound up, so lets have some fun.

          And yes I do have a blog, but I don’t use it to preach or spray about my beliefs or tell folks how important I am and how important I think my job is etc. Nor do I use it to tell people how they should act if I reprimand them and how to beg and bribe me for forgiveness.

          The only time I spray in my blog is when I am playing a friendly game of GNAR, but it’s mostly just exciting skiing, mountaineering reports and trip reports.

          That’s it for now until the next Jill comes along and makes a meaningless assumption.

          PS. For all the folks who called me out on my grammar, Well we’re all not perfect and I don’t claim to be a writer but Kim misspelled Rutschblock above. So here is your chance if grammar is that important to you, Attack.

          PSS Kim said

          “Plus, at a ski area, we have the benefit of skier compaction. Still, that’s no guarantee, but it’s the biggest weapon in our arsenal. Get skiers and riders on the snow as soon as possible and work-harden that snow into submission. ”

          That is awesome and I could not endorse this approach more. I wish the ski areas around here would consider that , then I could actually ski a bit more then a Ribbon of Joy right now. It is the best method as far as I am concerned. Plus it saves what little snow Colorado gets instead of bombing it to the dirt. Big props to Crystal for this approach. I could care less about bashing up some skis to put that snow down and break it up. Its even more effective if you get fit locals to volunteer, sign a waiver and walk on it to break it up even more. I just wish my local patrol saw it the same way.

          CSAW 2010 saw an amazing presentation from Peter Carvelli

          Boot Packing & The Alternatives. Peter Carvelli, Aspen Highlands Ski Patrol

          Still our local areas refuse to implement the ideas or even attempt to experiment with it.
          HIghlands even has a boot packer program. Check it out http://bootpacker.com/

          So props to Crystal and your tactics.

          As you do know though, Skier compaction doesn’t really mean much, Try and explain that one to the public, but as the team of professional patroI that you are, I don’t need to explain that to you. I don’t make my decisions based on tracks. I have seen entire mogul fields slide. And despite the ingredients that allowed the Pali to slide killing one, the slope was still hammered to hell and had moguls everywhere.

          At the same CSAW we saw a nice follow up from the late great Leif Borgeson, Sure miss that guy.

          Wet Slabs: A Perspective from ABasin. Leif Eric Borgeson, Arapahoe Basin Ski Patrol

  5. I’ve puzzled over that sticker too. Sometimes it’s vaguely amusing. Maybe it’s embracing one’s dark side. Maybe it’s a Christian thing (loving your enemies). I don’t have a precise answer, the meaning is argueable. But what’s easy to argue is that a good chunk of what I think of as “character” is “tolerance for adversity”. Maybe that’s what my mom was trying to do with me.

  6. Wise words, Kim. It’s hard not to take things personally and it’s tough to take from a computer screen because you know most people wouldn’t be able to say it to you in person. Everyone’s braver at their keyboard, unfortunately. I thought your post was rather lighthearted. True, and lighthearted.
    I’m with you…I’d chalk it up to character building too. That’s the high road. But behind their backs? I’d be swearing just a little. Then continue to character-build.

  7. I’ve been apalled at the vitriol that I see on article and blog post comments, but I think it’s easy for people to spill out the cyber equivalent of road rage when they are “anonymous.” Don’t think many of these things would be said to your face or anyone’s.Where are your manners people?!

    Anyway, I’d say it’s a backhanded compliment that it went viral! Still waiting for one of my blog posts to do so! Keep it up, appreciate your honesty and putting yourself out there.

  8. Another great post, Kim. After reading this, I have a new -found appreciation for altruism and showing compassion– even towards the douchiest douches. ‘preciate your openness and honesty– even in the eyes of vulnerability. Keep writing, girl!

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