December 19, 2020

Some people like you. Some people dislike you. Most people do not know you exist. The opinions of people in your inescapable social circle matter. This post concerns strangers outside your inescapable social circle.

Strangers with slightly positive feelings toward you do not matter. Strangers with slightly negative feelings toward you do not matter. Strangers with moderate negative feelings toward you do not matter. Only strangers whose negative feelings toward you are strong enough to motivate them to violence against you matter.

Until you are on the receiving end of violence, strangers' negative opinions do not harm you. Strangers' negative opinions are often more useful than no opinions. Ultimately, what matters is how many people love you. Strangers' negative opinions get you attention. Often, some fraction of that attention will even get you fans. Jordan Peterson is an archetype case study. His haters made him world famous. World fame then earned him his fanbase.

In a small inescapable social circle, people disliking you can be a ruinous problem. On the Internet, the number of people who dislike you equals your fame times your controversy because fame has higher variance than controversy. You can reduce the number of haters by preaching to the choir but if you get famous enough then even the most conservative positions won't save you. Lots of people will dislike you and disagree with you. The only way to avoid haters is to keep your fanbase small. That is, to say nothing of consequence.

If what you say matters then lots of people will call you stupid.

If what you say is stupid-yet-polite then strangers won't get angry. They will just ignore you. If you are obnoxiously stupid then strangers will show you the door. You may find another platform. If people do listen to you on the new platform then your problem is solved. If you cannot find a new platform then you may be expressing genuinely stupid ideas.

You should avoid deliberately anatagonizing people because doing so is reactive; it tacitly cedes the initiative. Nor should you pander…ever. Rather, you should listen to the fans you agree—and slightly disagree—with. Ignore everyone else.