Login or Register

Sign in with Facebook
There's an old expression that I heard a lot growing up. Paraphrasing, it went a little something like this:

There are four kinds of people in this world:

people who like you for the wrong reasons;

people who like you for the right reasons;

people who dislike you for the wrong reasons; and

people who dislike you for the right reasons.

And it's only the last group you need to worry about.

Getty
These aren't the four people, but the article was really screaming out for this layout-wise, don't you think?

I have googled variations of this phrase many times and have always failed to find its origin. Guesses include the writings of Jean Paul Sartre and/or an old episode of TV's The White Shadow. Regardless, I believe it is the truest and wisest thing ever uttered by an existentialist French philosopher and/or fictional inner-city high school basketball coach. And because this maxim comes in list form, it seemed appropriate to examine it further in a Cracked article. (Also, Jack "I have no nicknames" O'Brien nixed my original submission entitled 9 Venereal Diseases the Cracked Editors Picked Up at Comikaze.)

I have placed a picture of breasts next to this paragraph in the hope of attracting the Net's attention to this important introductory point. The expression suggests that you be most concerned about the people who are right to dislike you. Basically, listen only to valid criticism, and become a better person. But as I examined the expression further, I realized that in order to understand which people fit into that final category, you need to examine all the categories, and each category has its own value. The way I see it, the last category is set aside more as the best place to start for self-improvement -- not the only one that matters. So that's what I did below. I examined each category using examples from my life to illustrate. Specifically, two very formative areas of my existence: college and writing for the Internet (I would have used examples from your life, but I don't know you that well. You seem cool, though. You read Cracked and pay attention to breast-based paragraphs. We should hang out.)

4
People Who Like You For The Wrong Reasons

Who are these people who like you for the wrong reasons? Well, there are many kinds. People who like you because other people like you or because they think they're supposed to like you. People who like you for superficial qualities like money, appearance or social standing. And there's a more interesting category too: People who like you because they think you have traits and characteristics you don't actually have. People who like a fake version of you.

College-Based Real Life Example:

When I look back at my life, there is definitely one category of person who liked me for the wrong reasons: just about any girl who had sex with me in college. I went to school at Cornell, which in my day was composed almost entirely of either sorority chicks or hippies. Neither group was particularly attractive to me.

Getty
Please note, neither beautiful on the inside either.

In fairness, at 18, I'm not sure how attractive I was to them either.


Here I am as a freshman doing a super cool thing where I made my fridge look like a person. I called him "Mr. Hungry Spoon Man," and he was super good at helping me not have lots of sex.

I seemed incapable of finding any girl who didn't fit into these two dreaded categories. Making matters worse, Cornell was also devoid of my dream girl: the bohemian, sexually-perverse, dangerous chick with emotional issues that both Hollywood and my own retarded sexuality had trained me to admire.

Getty
No trace of her. Not even in the School of Human Ecology.

Feeling terribly alone, but not wanting to actually sell out and become a hippie or a frat guy, I did the only thing I could: I grew out my hair. "Long hair!!! Hippie!" you say. "Not so fast," I reply. It was the '90s. I was a grunger, baby.


Please note the necklace made from a holographic dinosaur watch I got in a box of Cocoa Pebbles.

And just like that, hippies started having sex with me. It didn't matter that I hated Phish and the Grateful Dead or that I didn't get high. I had long hair and they saw something in me that probably wasn't there. And with the influx of hippies, came more confidence, and then girls who shaved and wore make up too. Even some who thought they had feelings for me beyond sex. But I didn't get a big head about that. I knew it was smoke and mirrors. They had fallen for an illusion, and feeling special about their love or lust would have been a mistake.

I had a short-term girlfriend who used to think I was the nicest guy in the world because on nights she slept over, I'd drive her to class the next morning. To me, it was just being polite, but she told me it was because I was a sensitive, caring guy. If I'd believed her, I might have been fooled into thinking courtesy passed for compassion. That civility passed for love. I might have kept acting in the same superficial way (being a crappy boyfriend to her or other women) and I might have missed out completely on the next category.

3
People Who Like You For The Right Reasons

This is very subjective. It's quite possible you have no idea what the right reasons for liking you are. Maybe you think you're "passionate," but in reality you're just an abusive, loud-mouthed asshole. And while not as important as the final category on the road to self-betterment, reflecting on who likes you for the right reasons is still a beneficial exercise. For one thing, it requires you to have an ounce of self-esteem. To accept that there are real reasons for people to like you. For another, as I was hinting at above, it provides a definition of love.

College-Based Real Life Example:

Something I forgot to mention about my college days. I went to school at the height of political correctness. So when I say there were hippies there, understand that these were '90s hippies without all those positive traits you could attribute to actual '60s hippies like non-violence, idealism and a predilection for orgies. At my school, hippie meant privileged kids with long hair and Birkenstocks who were so emotionally scarred they could only interact with others by sitting in a circle and passing weed.

Getty
"Here's a song about rainbows that almost silences the memories of what Daddy did when he'd been drinking."

And so periodically throughout college, I was vilified as a fascist for disagreeing with some of the following statements:

Calling any girl over 12 a "girl" is hate speech;

If you sleep with a girl who has had a beer that night it's date rape;

AIDS is the biggest crisis facing America (which even in the '90s, by the way, was not the biggest cause of death in America);

A man has no right to say a mom is being selfish about anything ever (especially getting high while pregnant); and

Guns of any and all kinds should be outlawed in America.

Even more annoying, none of these disagreements were ever met with an actual debate. There was no capacity for debate. Only an unspoken agreement as conveyed by the passing of a bowl. But then, after college, I met a very liberal-minded, educated, assertive young woman from UC Berkeley, and you know what? She didn't hate me. She didn't even disagree with most of the above, and if she did, she didn't see those opinions as some evidence of my dark spirit. And where there was disagreement, there was the capacity to discuss and get deeper into someone's head, and for the first time, I felt known. I felt she liked me for the right reasons, the real me, and I married her.


Of course, years later, I woke her at 3 a.m., screaming, "Fooled ya!!! I totally suck!" But that's not important right now.

Continue Reading Below

2
People Who Dislike You For The Wrong Reasons

I don't want to spend too much time here because this is a lesson you've heard on every TV family sitcom for the last 40 years: "Well, if Tommy doesn't want to be your friend because of ______, then Tommy's not a very good friend, is he?" And it may be cliche, but it's true. Tommy sucks. You can't worry about people who dislike you for the wrong reasons. Superficial things. You're too ugly, too pretty, too brainy, too jocky, too gay, too into mixed martial arts and comic books, whatever. If you listen to them you'll get lost. You'll sink to the lowest common denominator. You won't be you anymore.

Pretty
After all, where would Cracked's Soren "double bagger" Bowie be if he listened to all those naysayers who told him to never leave the house just because he's so fugly?

Internet-Based Example:

It is well-accepted that the comments section of anything located on the Internet is like a giant electromagnet for the worst people in the world if the worst people in the world were made of metal-plated pus. (Especially if the pus were also made of metal.) That's why many writers and well-grounded people avoid the comments completely. After all, taken as a whole, the comments section is, at worst, irritatingly worthless and, at best, fairly contradictory.

For example, in 2010, I wrote a piece staunchly in favor of our First Amendment rights and the rights of Muslims to build an Islamic Community Center on private property, and I was attacked as a flaming liberal. A few weeks ago, I wrote a piece criticizing some of the protesters in the Occupy Wall Street movement and received hate mail, labeling me a right wing conservative idiot. I'm also routinely called a bleeding heart hippie because of my Hate By Numbers series even though I satirize CNN far more than FoxNews. Probably the most irritating thing that's ever happened to me online was when I wrote a satirical piece, fully supportive of gay marriage, and took crap from some gay readers who missed the point completely. As a whole, the comments section of the Internet is indefensible, and trying to appease commenters is not only foolhardy, it's impossible. I mean, look at these comments that popped up side by side a few months ago. I couldn't please them both if I tried.


But I can have the one with weaker grammar skills traced and killed.

1
People Who Dislike you For The Right Reasons

Here we are, and you don't need any explanations. These are the people who know why you suck and can describe your suckitude in accurate ways. These are the people we want to disregard so we can keep being who we are while we pretend to be someone else. But like the saying goes, these are the people who matter most.

Getty
"And if you look right here, you'll see why your personality is hard-wired to perform in such a way as to keep everyone from loving you."

Internet-Based Example:

This is the point where I admit I sorta lied. I do think listening to the comments as a whole would be foolish, but unlike so many of my brethren online, I often do read the comments. Why? Well, as one writer will tell you, it's because I'm a total lunatic, and that's true enough. I won't disagree. But I do it for another reason too. I'm just following the expression above like I have my whole life. And as much as I can read the comments for the ego-stroke of people who like me (for the right reasons), I'm really even more concerned with people who hate me for the right reasons. And it doesn't have to be hate. It can just be telling me I'm wrong. Even small things. Like with that OWS column, I made a metaphor about tigers in the Serengeti. Apparently, they don't live there. I read the comment and made the change. It was embarrassing, but I learned something.

In general, I don't think people who avoid the comments are wrong. I have read thousands over the years and there has only been a small percentage that told me something positive or negative I didn't already know. But most of the time I do it anyway because I think there's value in the search. In believing that people exist who can teach you something. Who might be correct in their criticism. Also, having practiced the other three categories, I don't really sweat having to plow through the wrong-reason haters and trolls to find anything of value. And who knows, if I can do it online, maybe some day I can do it in real life too?

Subscribe to the all-new HATE BY NUMBERS. Also follow Gladstone on Twitter and stay up to date on the latest regarding Notes from the Internet Apocalypse. And then there's his website too.

For more from Gladstone, check out The 7 Worst Behaviors on Public Transportation and 8 Inexcusable Behaviors on Public Transportation: Part 2.

To turn on reply notifications, click here

1155 Comments

Load Comments