And you shouldn’t either.
I get a daily stoic email and this gem was one of them.
We have so many strong opinions. Especially about things we don’t like. We don’t like it, and we want you to know that we don’t like it—that musician, that politician, that restaurant, the way that so-and-so talks.
It’s almost like we take pleasure in the misery these things cause us. Needless to say, this is not Stoic. You think Marcus didn’t have things he didn’t like? Of course he did. Seneca, too. But they worked to get from a place of hate or dislike to what the Stoics called “indifference”—almost Zen-like nothingness towards what displeased them.
Malcolm Gladwell asked Joe Rogan (in their epic interview on Rogan’s podcast) what kind of comics he didn’t like. Rogan responded that he actually didn’t have any.
One of the things I’ve gotten really good at as I’ve gotten older is not paying any attention to things I don’t like. Just letting it slide right out of my brain and onto the floor, I’m not interested. It’s just, I spent so much time when I was younger and stupider, worrying about things I don’t like, being upset at things I don’t like—well that sucks, why do people like that, what is wrong with them? And then I realized, like, what a gigantic waste of resources that is, just a huge waste of energy. I don’t care anymore. You know as long as they’re not stealing material, as long as they’re not you know doing something terrible to other comics, victimizing, as long as they’re not doing that, I really don’t care. If they’re doing well, good luck.
“We have the power to hold no opinion about a thing,” Marcus Aurelius wrote, “and to not let it upset our state of mind—for things have no natural power to shape our judgments.” Beautiful.
(Too bad Rogan apparently doesn’t like science, letting it slide out of his brain to be replaced with nonsense and worse, dangerous crap. This post was started in March 2021, before Rogan went full-on health risk. Be like Rogan in that you simply move on from things you don’t like. Don’t be like Rogan in every single other way.)
I’ve struggled with this. I say struggle because especially on the internet (Facebook and Twitter) it’s easy to get sucked into sharing what you hate. Someone posts about something they like and you see it, someone comes in with how much they hated it.
No one cares that you hated it, Chad.
More to the point, your hating of it doesn’t mean someone else can’t love it, and there are exactly zero times that it’s ok to try to steal someone’s joy.
Creators know this.
It’s common among writers to tell newer writers to never read reviews. It’s awesome and heartwarming to see someone say how much they love what you create. That feeling is so easily trampled by the person who leaves a negative review because they didn’t like your writing style, or use of pronouns, or your main character’s sexuality. None of that is actionable. It’s all subjective. That person could have left their star rating without explaining, or simply said it’s not for them. They never do.
I’m not perfect. I’m working on it. I will be forever.
I try to leave honest reviews and preface subjective issues so that it’s clear that it’s a ‘me thing’ so that the objective issues shine more brightly. After all, those are the things the creator can choose to address.
More to the point, and I think more importantly when I see someone on social media post about something they liked that I didn’t enjoy. I keep scrolling. We all should work harder on this part.