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Gen Y Speaks: We can’t avoid haters. I handle them with empathy and humour

Like many fellow millennials, I follow numerous vloggers and YouTubers for their content on a plethora of topics such as food, fashion, fitness, interior decor and music.

Like many fellow millennials, I follow numerous vloggers and YouTubers for their content on a plethora of topics such as food, fashion, fitness, interior decor and music.

Not only is such content informative, it keeps me updated about the latest trends and happenings, and provides a common topic for me when chatting with my peers.

In particular, I enjoy trying out workouts by one of my favourite YouTubers: Australian fitness vlogger Chloe Ting, who has a massive 22 million followers.

On top of the fitness programmes and recipes on healthy snacks and drinks in Chloe's videos, it is the infectious energy, zest and optimism that Chloe radiates in her videos that made me click on her videos again and again.

But  in August, Chloe released a video titled "I've Had Enough" that garnered over three million views.

For the first time, Chloe opened up on why she went away on a short hiatus of a few months.

She shockingly revealed that she was harbouring thoughts of quitting YouTube despite her incredible success due to the hate that she had attracted.

An example would be malicious comments from viewers that claimed that she intentionally misled people, and that her content was nonsense.

She even went as far as to describe herself as "walking on eggshells" on YouTube, constantly trying to be careful about everything that she says and does.

I see Chloe as an enthusiastic and admirable woman who engages her followers. Yet, I am not surprised by what she was going through.

With her appeal and accomplishments, it is easy to imagine that there would be plenty of people who are envious of her substantial influence, as well as nay-sayers who would criticise her on the smallest things that she says or does.

Yet, even Chloe mentioned that she found it difficult to block off all the hate which affected her and led to her hiatus, no matter what the comments were or who they came from.

After all, even ordinary people such as my friends and I meet with haters which affect our confidence.

Whether in school or our working life, it is inevitable that someone would dislike the way we speak, behave, look and even what we have accomplished, for various reasons.

For instance, one of my friends was hated for being from a well-to-do family.

Our mutual acquaintances sometimes gossiped about how she was always ferried by parents in a Mercedes, despite only knowing her by name.

I have also been a victim of haters. In secondary school, some peers who did not know me personally would dislike how I often did well in certain subjects such as Biology.

In the past one year, I sometimes still see forums discussing my rather unique name in a denigrating way.

For instance, some may comment that my parents were drunk when giving me the name, or ask if they meant to name me “abalone” instead.

The author says that her relationship with others, whether haters or not, should never be more important than her relationship with herself.  Photo: Raj Nadarajan/TODAY

In this world of haters, how do we respond more gracefully?

I have learnt two effective ways to do so.

First, to respond to haters with more empathy.

Whenever I see any “hate” comment, I would ask myself: Is there nobody in this world that I dislike?

As most of us are mere mortals, there are usually people whom one would find irksome or unlikeable. I am no exception.

Even I have certain people or things I dislike. Therefore, why should I expect others to love everything about me?

With this realisation, I found myself taking hate comments less personally.

This world is filled with people with diverse viewpoints, and it is simply impossible for everyone to like you, just like how it is impossible for me to like everyone.

Secondly, to respond to haters with humour.

Liza Koshy, an American actress, comedian and YouTuber, once uploaded a video where she read mean comments, but intentionally misconstrued them so that they would be funny.

When a viewer commented that he wanted to see what the big deal about her was but he was disappointed, Liza responded by saying "Oh my gosh, he thought I was a big deal!"

When another viewer referred to Liza as a pest, Liza responded by saying, "this is weird, he spelt best with a 'p'!"

Liza's warm and endearing personality, with a healthy dash of humour and playful misinterpretations in a positive light, turned the harshest comments from haters to hilarious viewpoints that can brighten up your dullest day.

Although humour is not my forte as I am naturally serious, I have become inspired by her to respond in a more light-hearted and somewhat witty way to haters in the future.

Personally, I believe that one's relationship with haters is dynamic and will continue to change and develop with time.

For example, I had a hater who commented in a forum last year that I look like a chipmunk in some of my photos, and added that I am better off not taking photos.

Initially, I felt hurt and annoyed at such unsolicited comments that were so tactlessly made.

Now, I have learnt to laugh it off and look on the bright side that chipmunks also appear adorable in their own way.

I will also remind myself that in the course of life, my relationship with others, whether haters or not, should never be more important than my relationship with myself.

That is, to be answerable to myself and allow my personality and talents to shine, regardless of others' viewpoints.



Alvona Loh Zi Hui is a junior doctor who works at a public hospital in Singapore.

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