Dear haters, an apology letter.

Dear haters,

Over the last three years I’ve written a lot about haters. I’ve done this in part because it’s weird to have strangers hate you.

It’s strange that people who have never met you, talked to you, texted with you, skyped with you or had any other personal interaction with you attack you personally. That’s a new thing too. For years, we’ve been able to privately hate people in the comfort of our own homes. But for the first time in the history of mankind, we are able to publicly share our hatred without leaving home or writing a editorial in the newspaper.

Talk radio might have provided some access to this activity, but you only had a 1 in 100 shot of actually getting on the air and they cut you off quickly. Now though, we get to roll around in the mud of our cynicism for as long and as often as we want.

But there’s a problem, one that’s been pointed out to me by a few people.

People who disagree with you are not always haters. Most of the time they are just people who disagree with you.

There’s a massive difference. Just because we have different opinions does not make you a hater. It makes you a person who has a different opinion.

I’ve wrongly labeled people as haters who weren’t and I’ve contributed to one of culture’s biggest mistakes. Right now, our culture offers two options, wildly agree with everything I agree with or be labeled a hater. There’s no “debate and love,” option on the table anymore and that’s a shame.

So today, I apologize. I unfairly judged people who disagreed with me as haters. I regret that.

If I’ve learned anything, it’s that only about 10% of the people who criticize me are really haters. And for those folks I will continue to write things like this. (A hater being someone who wants to create a wound not a conversation, who wants to attack an individual as opposed to discussing an idea.)

I’ll do better going forward, but in the meantime, thanks for having an opinion different than mine.

Jon

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Comments

  1. says

    You’re right, it is totally possible to disagree on things (even important things) without hating each other. It’s always vital to remember that whoever holds that opinion you find so offensive or wrong is still a human being. Sometimes we just forget that internet people are people too. I have a friend who constantly quotes Richard Mouw:

    “A lot of people today who have strong convictions are not very civil and a lot of people who are civil don’t have very strong convictions. What we really need is convicted civility.”

  2. says

    Thank you. And I forgive you completely.
    I love the fact that you would rather be loving than convince people you’re right; it shows maturity. Like all godly perspectives, this one will be difficult to maintain, but I’m rooting for you! And I’ll be praying the Holy Spirit give you wisdom about that. I love your blog! I want to be YOU someday!

  3. says

    Very well said, Jon.

    Our culture definitely has an influence on us. I’ve succumbed to a similar behavior in which I’ve disregarded someone’s “hate” speech simply because I didn’t agree with his words only for me to then be offended when another’s viewpoint classified me the same. Humbled.

    Thanks so much for your post!

  4. David Harris says

    I don’t think you could have put that any better. That distinction has been lost – the pendulum has swung in the other direction – either agree 100% or you’re a hater and I can dismiss your opinion. That is a surefire way to never grow as a person. And that sense of entitlement causes nothing but trouble when people get out into the “real world” and have to sometimes be told that they’re wrong.

  5. says

    Personally, I think it is easy to label them haters because many people don’t know how to disagree without attacking the individual. They don’t have to say anything with grace or tact because they can hide behind their phones and computer screens. Maybe they do only disagree, however if we only seek to slap someone with our version of “truth” instead of generating discussion with a question or stating an opposing opinion in a nice way, you’re probably not going to get very far and you’re probably going to be labeled a “hater.” I guess I’m just saying don’t be so hard on yourself. Lol Thanks so much for this, Jon.

  6. HolliB says

    You’re absolutely right that you’ve jumped all over people who disagreed with you. In doing so, you’ve often made it all about you. I know plenty of people who say, you know, Jon used to be awesome, but now, I don’t know… And I think that was one of the reasons.

    That being said, this is a big apology and a good one. Good on you for not hedging (“I apologize, but…”). Being willing and able to do this, and to do it in public, is likely to allow you to move to a new level of truth and love in your ministry. And that’s good.

    Good work, Jon. Thank you.

    • Jon Acuff says

      Since we’re being honest, I think the first paragraph of your comment came off in an unintended way. I think you meant it as a confirmation of my thought, but telling me you know plenty of people who used to think I was awesome didn’t feel that way. If a friend apologized for being a jerk and your response was “I know plenty of people who I’ve been talking to behind your back who think you are a jerk” that would be a weird thing to say. That’s how I think you unintentionally came off.
      Jon

      • Jane Oschner says

        “It’s such a weird thing when you do a post apologizing & folks say, “You are awful, I’m glad you apologized.” Oh Internets, you perplex me.” – @jonacuff

        I can only assume that tweet was in reference to HolliB’s comment and if I’m being honest, I think it came off in an unintended way. It FEELS like you’re saying “Its funny when you apologize for something, and someone replies with “Yes, you did do that wrong. Thank you for apologizing”. That doesn’t make much sense. If you’re apologizing, then logically you are admitting you have done something wrong. So when someone confirms that, and then cordially THANKS you for your apology, why are you perplexed by the Internet??

        • Jon Acuff says

          That tweet wasn’t about that comment. If you feel that was a cordial response, why would that tweet be about that? Hollib has commented very honestly on this site for a while. I’d much rather address the comment directly which is what I did.

          • Jane Oschner says

            Well, I DID assume…and that’s exactly why I was confused. It didn’t make sense.

      • HolliB says

        Jon– Your comment reads as if you want to reinterpret what I wrote to make it turn out to be a compliment to you. Clearly if I said something that sounds negative, it must be unintentional. (A bit of irony there in a post about responding to haters.) No. Nothing unintentional here. I was reporting honestly what I have heard more than a few people say. As Jane states it on this thread: “Yes, you did something wrong. Thank you for apologizing.”

        You’ve been flirting for a while with letting your ministry become all about you, and it has indeed driven some people away from you. (Others are clearly happy to follow you wherever. And there’s a danger in that, a danger for you.) Please be careful. The more you make your ministry all about you, the more seeds you sow for its eventual destruction. You have amazing potential and I for one would hate to see it frittered away. You haven’t gone very far down that road, but if you compare your work from a few years ago with what you tend to post now, it’s noticeable.

        Your apology is good. Not necessarily for the people formerly branded as “haters,” although some may still be watching, some may have needed it, who knows? But for you. It’s a level of self-awareness that’s important as your ministry grows, as you become famous within a limited sphere and have to learn to deal with the treacheries of fame. Stick with the very good thoughts in your apology and keep going in that direction. Good on you, Jon.

        • Jane Oschner says

          Thank you Holli. You always manage to say everything I’m thinking. Only much better.

          I too have noticed the shift in Jon’s work and ministry and I think a big part of it might be that he’s now out from under the Ramsey umbrella and working strictly for himself. That’s why I feel we get a lot more random funny video and photos posts.

          I’ve been following Jon for awhile and his shifting has turned me off quite a bit. But like you, I still see his potential.

          • Brian says

            Hollib and Jane,

            Have either of you confronted Jon in private–an e-mail or anything–about your concerns about him making his platform all about himself.

            If not, then this is NOT the forum to pile on for a sincere apology.

  7. says

    Mike Greenberg from ESPN’s Mike & Mike actually has an interesting perspective on this. But very similar to Jon’s.

    Greenberg says, and I’m paraphrasing here, that he has had some of the most vile and hateful things tweeted and emailed to him over the years, but doesn’t let it bother him. Those are the 10% of whom Jon references. But for the most part, people that disagree with him, he believes, actually care about what he is doing, otherwise they wouldn’t have taken the time to tweet or email.

  8. jillw says

    These folks you are apologizing may not be haters in a general sense… they are just sippin on some haterade while typing!

  9. says

    As one who has been accused of being a “hater” many times on these very feedback forums (although not by you personally, which I appreciate), I welcome this post.

    There is such a thing as civil disagreement and debate. Debating and disagreeing does not automatically make someone a “hater”, or a “troll” (another term which is often misused to mean “people who disagree”).

    • KJGuest says

      I want to be at least one voice to thank you, Michael, for your comments on this blog. I’m a fairly new reader, but I’ve appreciated seeing your posts when you’ve been of a differing opinion about subjects being discussed. When any blog focuses on a certain niche, I think it’s important for other voices to be heard, and from what I’ve seen, you consistently do so with care. I, for one, appreciate it. It’s tough to have something like one’s faith/beliefs questioned or brought up for debate, but sometimes it’s a good thing to do now and then to help us regain focus on what is or is not important.

      • says

        By the way, I saw something interesting in the news recently. Apparently, researchers have found that the pleasure centres of your brain actually light up when someone tells you you’re right, in much the same way that they do from taking certain recreational drugs.

        In other words, it is not a joke to say that people can actually develop a bit of an addiction to being told they’re right, which would increase the unpleasantness they feel when someone tells them they’re wrong.

  10. says

    I think that is a really humble posture. Thank you for sharing. I would like to say there are semi-haters out there as well. They may not be full blown, but they have to push back against every idea just because they love to argue. These people may not say horribly mean things out right, but they will give little back handed comments that imply you’re an idiot. It’s also exhausting to get berated with critism, even when it’s meant to be helpfull, when you’re trying to start something new…

  11. says

    Excellent job of reminding us all of a very important distinction!

    Always encouraged by those who are willing to share lessons they have learned, even when it means sharing their mistakes.

    Thanks Jon for providing some encouragement in today!

  12. says

    Love this post. I often have to remind myself to untie my heart and emotions from the criticism, so that I can (if necessary) learn from the different perspective.

  13. Stineway says

    Love your stuff, and glad to see you have finally arrived at the obvious. It has been painful to read as you have written about “haters”. Glad to hear it as some people do just have differing views and others are just cyber-nasty because they can be. That love is the greatest of all is one of the most fundamental things of scripture. Happy to know you have seen the light and have dumped the attitude. Out country has a tradition of leaping to our defense when our feathers are ruffled in the slightest. Jesus just shook the dust of his sandals and moved to the next person or group of people to speak with them. No malice, the folks just weren’t ready or had hardened their hearts. We don’t need to get our knickers in a bunch about it. We bless them and move on.

  14. says

    This is a distinction I have a hard time making… especially when someone is promoting an idea, but the idea creates a wound. God grant me the gentleness and humility to recognize that people who believe things I find hateful, are not neessarily doing so out of hate.

  15. Danny Remington II says

    I love that definition of the word “Hater”. Be encouraged, Jesus had a lot of haters but in the end He won.

  16. says

    As a preacher, this post really hits home. If we preach (or teach in a one-on-one or classroom setting) something that people don’t agree with, too many just say we “hate people.” They do not see that we are not trying to “preach AT” folks, but are trying to start a dialogue about Scripture. It is way too easy for people to jump to the “hater” attitude, because it doesn’t take any mental effort. Instead, we all need to be willing to think, share, study, and discuss in a clear and loving manner. Thanks for this post!

  17. says

    Jon,
    Thank you for this. I’m opinionated and have left comments for a handful of bloggers whom I respect (and loyally read) only to be blown off as a hater.
    Really appreciate you taking notice and offering a middle ground.
    Godspeed.
    -KC

  18. Carla N. says

    It’s quite possible to disagree respectfully and politely.
    There’s nothing respectful or polite about true hate.
    It’s not as easy to tell the difference as it might seem.
    Many people instantly interpret “I think you’re wrong about that” as “I think you’re stupid and/or evil, and I want to destroy your life.”
    Sometimes (but not always!) it helps to make it clear that what you’re questioning is an action or attitude, NOT the person him/herself.

  19. says

    On a similar note, I think it’s sad that so often people equate a difference of opinion or convictions with being intolerant. They are not the same. We can disagree with folks respectfully without doing it in an ugly, judgmental or intolerant way. I like well thought out arguments and can respect someone even if I disagree with their ideas completely. Good post, Jon

  20. Missy says

    I’ll admit I had gotten really frustrated with the use of the word “haters” around here. :) I still *ahem* “hate” the term.

    Thanks for this post – it’s really refreshing to hear and I applaud you for it! (Slow clap?)

    “A hater being someone who wants to cause a wound…” now THAT is a definition I completely concur with. I truly hope you encounter very few (or even better none) of these folks.

  21. Matt says

    Thanks for this post Jon. The term ‘haters’ has always bothered me. Most often, I find it being used by prideful people to deflect any criticism that comes their way. I don’t consider you to be a prideful person, so in the past it’s kind of grated me to hear you use it. Anyway, thanks again!

  22. Joshua Wulf says

    I guess I haven’t been a loyal enough reader for this to bother me here, but it’s definitely a common problem for content providers to be dismissive of disagreeing comments and feedback as haters. For example, when this was discussed on the Relevant Podcast, there was a very condescending tone about those who post things that are disagreeable.
    “People want to be heard”
    “Don’t read the comments”
    “The entry fee to make a comment is to say ‘I believe people need to know what I think'”
    …And disagreeing opinions were described as negative and personal.

    The message sent there is that content providers have a platform and if you don’t agree, don’t engage and the comment section is for people to praise the author. If you disengage people who aren’t always going to praise all you do, you significantly reduce your active audience. Most people that comment do so to contribute to the thought even when they don’t completely agree. I never comment negatively with the intent to insult the writer. I do it to challenge them to consider another angle. I do it to find out why they don’t agree with my point of view (if they didn’t address it in the content)… And I do it with an open mind willing to change my opinion. I do it because I feel that my point of view is misrepresented. I do it because 500 words is not enough to change my mind but is enough to cause me to consider and I ask for clarification in an area that wasn’t addressed in the 500 words. I do it to give the author a chance to clarify in case the message was misunderstood (which is sometimes the case).

    When I feel that only praise is welcomed and the peasants without a platform are dismissed, I don’t engage. Bloggers and publishers might not like people disagreeing with them, but engaged readers = more traffic and more traffic = more money. A less material way to look at it is: engaged readers means you are having more influence through meaningful interactions.

    Granted, there are real haters but this post made a great distinction between who is and isn’t. Great post.

  23. Debby says

    Thank you. Just thank you so very much for these kind words of apology. Your words show kindness and maturity. I appreciate being heard and understood.

    • Debby says

      Oh, and what do you think about calling that 10% “wounders” instead of “haters”? Your definition of is really good, and doesn’t it make a lot of sense to use a term that defines the person as well as the result of their words/actions? Just a thought.

  24. says

    Very astute comments all around. I constantly see comments from folks who, although not quite haters, feel the urgency to bring anyone whose opinion differs in any way into the court of their private opinion and brand the person with the label of the day. Just because someone espouses an opinion does not them them a part of any particular religious, political, spiritual, philosophical or whatever group. This dismissive attitude many posters have toward anyone who disagrees with them is indeed distressing and stifles any meaningful dialogue. Most of them time I butt out, seeing that there is no rational way of addressing the issue. Sad.

  25. says

    Nailed it! I’ve been struggling with this issue and God used you to make things much more clear. You’re humble, thought-provoking, hilarious and making a difference keep writing bro!

  26. says

    It’s interesting that a few years back haters had to be very bold and 1-Either say something awful to someone’s face, or 2- Write a personal letter to them. Oh there were a few things written-especially in politics. But today we can say whatever, whenever, and we can put just our first name to what we write, and as you said -in your case we have never met you. We don’t know folks hearts, motives, or what they’ve been through. We don’t know, but we can cast a big shadow in a very negative way. Jon, you are a very public figure. People can make jabs at anyone who is “up front”. Oh that we could remember how our words can do good or do bad.

    Keep up the good work Jon. I think you’re doing a great job. May we all think about what we write. My Mother taught me to write what I felt in a letter, put the letter in a drawer, and wait 24 hours and told me that if I still felt that way the next day to send it. My own failure? I made a tacky comment about people not knowing what “Regrets Only” means in reference to an invitation. I wrote it on Facebook and felt better. BUT I didn’t think I hit “Post”. Well I thought I didn’t! Yes, it went. Fortunately my wife caught it pretty quick and I took it down. Oops. We all do it, but the 24 hour rule still works as long as you don’t press send!

  27. says

    It takes humility and wisdom to differentiate between those who differ in opinion and those who genuinely are “haters”. I’ve learned that the intentions of their words and actions really define them. Haters have a tendency to want to destroy or degrade what you have built or said because of emotional reasons. It becomes more of an unmerited vendetta. Those who tend to have difference of opinion focus on the discussion, and usually appreciate some aspect of the work that you are doing.

  28. says

    It took a year and half of counseling to figure this one out. Now I don’t think my husband hates me just because he doesn’t agree with me and disagreement can actually bring intimacy between two people. :)

  29. Cherie says

    Having just started following you, I find this “apology letter” very encouraging. If we could all, just step back from ourselves and our beliefs we would find, that we are not always right and that we don’t always make the best decisions. But, this is how we grow and this is how we earn respect, we become better people, maybe a little more open-minded and compassionate. In this world of extremes….I am truly grateful for your since message today!

  30. Deborah (Debbie) says

    Jon…I think you are just WRONG. What a ridiculous thing to write. You must be a horrible person.

    (No, not really…there just might be a bit of wisdom here :) )

  31. Elizabeth Drue says

    I think often times people come across more rudely than they intend or know, and such a lack of courtesy makes it easier than it should perhaps be to label him or her a hater. The nature of typed comments that lack body language and voice inflections don’t help either.

  32. says

    I agree with you John. It made me think of SOMEONE’S words: Tolerance is the last and only virtue of a decadent society.

    Just introduced to your blog recently. Looking forward to learning some new things.

  33. Anonymous says

    Well at least you don’t call people stupid for disagreeing with you like Dave Ramsey did when he called a bitcoin caller and bitcoin investors stupid. We can disagree without calling each other names and without being rude toward each other.

  34. says

    speaking of haters: grammar!

    *an editorial

    post script: I didn’t check the comments if anyone else corrected it already. People love that!

  35. says

    Great post – thanks for writing it, Jon!

    I think it’s super important to draw attention to that distinction. A friend of mine is starting to enter into the world of speaking/blogging/writing, and posts some thoughts on social media that I don’t always agree with. I’m typically one who will express disagreement but certainly avoid personal attack, so I did on a few of those posts. I was taken aback when that friend reached out thinking there had been some offense and wondering why I was being disagreeable (even more surprised when I found out my dissenting but civil comment had been deleted). We talked it out and patched things up, but I think that’s a great example of what you’re pointing out.

    Perhaps for people who have something to say and start using social media and the internet to do it, this is an ever-present danger – thinking that anyone with a different opinion is automatically an enemy. I believe there needs to be room for debate and even civil disagreement. Of course, do note that I say “civil” disagreement. Still no room for haters. But disagreement? Bring it on! I think our ability to disagree yet remain friendly and even close is one of the things that separates us from animals. That and we’re a little bit cleaner.

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