A “hater” can be defined as a person who, on the Internet and in particular on social networks, usually taking advantage of anonymity, uses racist expressions of hatred and violently insults individuals, especially if known or famous, or entire segments of the population (foreigners and immigrants, women, non-Caucasian people, homosexuals, believers of other religions, disabled people, etc.).
Some researchers have identified the following characteristics as typical of haters:
1. predominantly express negative opinions in an aggressive manner;
2. make cynical or cruel comments and look for susceptible people;
3. they try to be ingenious to gain visibility in the media thanks to the fruit of their provocations;
4. usually, they deal with current issues to attract the attention of the general public.
The energy that the haters invest in their destructive action may have two reasons:
1. envy and desire to become famous. The haters believe that the person to whom they turn their hatred does not deserve the fame or prestige they have. The indignation is stronger when the person carries out an activity in the same field as the hater, obtaining, however, a recognition that the hater does not receive.
2. psychological projection. Identified by Freud in 1895, psychological projection is a defence mechanism by which someone attributes their shortcomings or defects to others.
In general, researchers found narcissistic and psychopathic personality traits, antisocial and sometimes even sadistic personalities in the haters who participated in the studies. Certainly, it is not easy to find haters willing to participate in research because they obviously prefer to remain anonymous. Furthermore, wanting to participate in a study would mean an awareness of the problem from the side of the hater, which is also quite difficult to find.
The haters phenomenon can happen in two ways.
On the one hand, if haters are ignored, and the recipients of the offences do not respond to their attacks, they tend to get bored and leave the online context where they were trying to find consent and visibility.
On the other hand, however, persistent hating behaviours can be an indication of truly harmful, antisocial and physically aggressive intentions that reflect genuinely disturbed personalities.
In conclusion, if a person has aggressive and offensive behaviours that cease if they do not find an audience and therefore visibility, the problem arises from the side of those who exploit this kind of behaviour. If, on the other hand, online behaviour were a reflection of real personality problems, it would be necessary to analyse the character of the individual, which is in any case independent on the use of social media.