"Friends are people that you think are your friends, but they're really your enemies, with secret identities and disguises to hide their true colors. So just when you think you're close enough to be brothers, they wanna come back and cut your throat when you ain't looking." - Eminem
I've always believed that if you get one true, good friend in your lifetime, you're doing pretty well. Some of the people who you mistakenly identify as your friends are better described as associates. Most of the people who you mistakenly identify as your friends are fuccbois.
Fuccbois hate you because they hate themselves. Fuccbois are those pale, pudgy, balding, broke, infrequently sexually active denizens of society who focus too much of their attention on others because they can't fathom their own miserable existence. They're uncomfortable with the tragedy of their own situation so they view yours with disdain and envy.
These people exist no matter what you do. I've personally encountered an excess of them in New York writing circles. It's a particularly woeful, insipid, querulous scene. Everyone has a useless opinion about what everyone else is doing, which results in more gossip than the accomplishment of anything meaningful. A number of people have taken to talking that shit with their back to me not knowing it always gets back to me, and, as the target of such vitriol, I have to ask: What's all the fucking fussing for? Because I'm grubbing more?
Motherfuckers take my efforts to inject life into this editorial wasteland as some sort of personal offense. First, the Death Grips break up, now every day I wake up, somebody got a problem with Ernest. Seldom a week passes where I don't hear a secondhand story about a fuccboi who was running his mouth about me. Never mind the cowardice of not having the guts to approach me directly, it's the nature of their criticism that's especially pathetic.
I'll publish something like "Drake vs. Wayne: The Saving Grace of an Otherwise Unfortunate Existence," and instead of figuring out why their review of the same concert has three retweets and mine has 300, other writers will sit around mocking my article over Skype. I suppose it's easier to poke holes at my story than examine why your own story failed. Even if criticism of my writing is valid, don't worry about me when your own shit's not together. Send your coworkers lines from the lazy, ironic trash on your own website that serves no purpose other than to occupy space before disparaging someone who's trying to advance the form.
Continue to flourish and don't waste your time obsessing over why these Shooter McGavins have an issue with you for no reason.
However, these circumstances aren't by any means unique to me. We all know how it feels to face animosity from former allies. That was the basis of the entire Cold War. 2Pac and Biggie were buddies before they were beefing. The pervasiveness of rapport turned resentment is a reflection on the sad state of human affairs, but it's wholly natural. Critics will always exist. What's important is to remember that they don't fucking matter, or as Teddy Roosevelt put it:
"It is not the critic who counts, not the man who points out how the strong man stumbles, or where the doer of deeds could have done them better. The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena, whose face is marred by dust and sweat and blood, who strives valiantly."
Also keep in mind what Teddy's distant cousin FDR said and "welcome their hatred." It exposes the snakes. The age-old adage about keeping your friends close and your enemies closer is oft-repeated for a reason. You should still be prepared to murder any of your enemies, but admire their consistency. At least you know what to expect. There are trolls who've been harassing me online for years and I know exactly what they think of me. What's disturbing are the people who smile in your face and plot in your absence. It makes you understand why Stalin executed even his closest companions. Ya know, just in case.
As unfortunate as they are, when you're prospering, the actions of friends who secretly hate you do make sense. Drake explains their behavior rather effectively on "The Catch Up": "Imagine how it feels to watch another nigga at the top, you know that if you wasn't you, you would be dissing you." That's why it's important to maintain a certain level of apathy about it all. Detractors might take pleasure in sitting around discussing what you do, but you should remain focused on your work and refrain from even caring if they're alive.
Think about what Eminem said when he won Video of the Year at the 2000 VMAs: "Every time a critic tries to slam me in the press or whatever, I sell more records. So I really wanna thank you people for making my record as big as it is." The conjecture only contributes to your stature. The players gonna play, the haters gonna hate and all you need to do is shake it off. Plus, if you listen to Puffy's rants on "My Downfall" and "Hate Me Now" enough times, you'll feel invincible from any Judas and Brutus types lurking in your midst.
Like Courteney Cox says in Scream 3, "Being the best means being willing to do what the others would not. Break the rules. Stop at nothing. Be willing to have the world hate you." That's how I look at life and you should do the same any time you find yourself facing opposition. Continue to flourish and don't waste your time obsessing over why these Shooter McGavins have an issue with you for no reason. That's their problem, not yours.
Hell, while I was writing this, Pharrell texted me, "You are a writer with a voice that will move people." Do you think I care about what a critic thinks? All I'm trying to do is make art that inspires others and you should only exert energy on whatever it is that you're trying to do. Fuck a hater, even if they used to be your homie. Instill that attitude within yourself and you'll always come out on top. Repeat after me: I will not lose ever. Fucker.
Ernest Baker is a writer living in New York. Follow him on Twitter here.