Is there a relationship between hate and wearing a mask? In this post, I talk about the link between hate and masks, inspired by the Rick Berlin song “How Can I Hate People I Don’t Know?” Here’s the fresh philosophy on hate culture:
“How can I hate people I don’t know?-Rick Berlin, “How Can I Hate People I Don’t Know?”
I do it all the time.”
“How can I hate people I don’t know?” asks Rick Berlin in his haunting yet homey song of the same name.
The piece is a meditation on hate infused with heartfelt hollowness and packed with truth-bombs.
In the music video, the main character goes about daily life wearing a mask. A bunny mask! We follow the protagonist as they drink coffee, walk about town, and seemingly judge people on the street.
It got me thinking.
Is there a relationship between hate and wearing a mask?
Yes. I think there is.
As this post is inspired by the music video and song, “How Can I Hate People I Don’t Know?” I highly encourage you to watch it.
Check out the song and video below to see the inspiration for yourself! ↓
Together the song and video are an emotional combination that present themes of disconnection, masks, hate, otherness, loneliness, impersonality, sadness, pain, and discord. (Or at least that’s what I felt!)
Although these aren’t positive topics, I found it truly refreshing to experience these human emotions through a raw lens.
Inspired (or rather, appropriately downtrodden) by this emotional combination, I’m sharing my philosophy on the relationship between hate and the masks we wear.
First, let’s begin with hate.
We all know how it feels to be hated.
When we receive hate, we feel sapped of energy, hurt, drained, attacked, and lesser-than. Hate damages us in a way that lowers our energy state. Hate diminishes our existence.
We know how to hate too.
We feel hate emotionally. It is a common human emotion.
It is also a mental phenomenon. We think hateful words – they can overtake our thoughts.
Hate is experienced physically too. It can manifest in our actions. These actions range from micro-aggressions to discrimination to hate crime.
Why everybody try to make other people look bad?-Rick Berlin, “How Can I Hate People I Don’t Know?”
All of these aspects of hate (emotional, mental, physical) count as hate. Which is why I argue that hate, at its deepest level, is an energy.
Hate is an Energy
Here’s my fresh philosophy on what hate is:
Hate is an energy.
Specifically, hate is a negative energy. It is draining in nature.
We perform hate on a energetic level. We experience the energy of hate within ourselves, then we send it to others.
The ultimate goal of hate is to stop someone’s existence.
When you hate someone, you are wishing they weren’t there. You’re trying to remove them from existing in the world as they are.
When we are hated, we are being told not to exist as we are. Someone else is trying to remove us from existence.
Whether expressed mentally, emotionally, physically or all three, hate is a negative, draining, harmful energy at its core.
We Hate Masks Not People
Now I want to go deeper.
Because I don’t think we really hate other people. We hate masks.
Here’s how it works:
- We put masks upon others.
- We hate the mask.
- When we hate, we do it from behind our own mask.
- The mask of hate protects us.
Let me explain:
1. Masking Others
Groups of people with a particular identity are often involved in receiving hate.
These “groups of people” are our social categories. And these categories are well known to us.
What all social categories have in common is that they take place in our mind.
A social category is just that – a CATEGORY.
A category is a mental structure that identifies a group of things and links it with particular traits.
So – a social category is a mental structure that identifies a group of people and links it with particular traits.
Here’s an example of how social category labeling works:
- Start with the social category “blogger”
- When someone attaches the category “blogger” to me, they label me as a blogger
- This means they link the word “blogger” with me, along with all of the other “blogger” traits they know
- When that person sees me, they see a blogger
- In their mind, I wear the mask of a blogger
For a more in-depth look at social categorization, this article has a great in-depth look at the term and a summary of research on the topic!
We, as perceivers, place masks upon others.
2. Hating the Mask
When we hate someone, we don’t really hate them. Instead, we hate the social category we’ve placed them in. We hate the mask.
For example, do you hate that blogger? Or do you hate bloggers in general? Do you hate that cyclist? Or do you hate cyclists in general? Do you hate that category member? Or do you hate that category in general?
Hate is something we direct towards individuals who activate social categories in our mind.
We don’t hate people. We hate masks.
3. Wearing the Mask of Hate
The link between hate and masks doesn’t stop there.
Hate itself is a mask.
That is, hate is not an authentic emotion. It is a mask for a deeper emotion.
The idea, stemming from clinical psychology, is that hate is a secondary emotion. It is a shield we put up after experiencing another negative emotion. Such as pain. Such as fear.
For more, here’s an article describing the idea of anger as a secondary emotion.
Once someone hurt us. And to prevent them from hurting us again, we got angry. We began hating them.
Them, and everyone else like them. Everyone in that category.
Hating people protects us. Or at least our damaged psyche thinks so.
Thus, hate itself is a mask emotion. It masks what we really feel.
4. Hating for Protection
Every time we hate, we put up a shield. That shield protects us from re-experiencing pain, fear and other negative emotions. It does that by preventing us from getting close to the world.
For example, perhaps a blogger discusses a bad habit you often do. And it hurts you to realize that your behavior is harmful to yourself. So to prevent such painful information from reaching you again, you begin hating that blogger and all bloggers. You use hate to prevent that type of information from reaching you again. You use hate to prevent yourself from having a similar negative experience. In this way you protect yourself.
Hate is a tool to keep people out. Hate is a tool to keep things “other.”
But why do we need to keep people out? Why do we need to keep things “other?” To protect ourselves from re-triggering and re-experiencing pain.
Behind the mask of hate you’ll find pain and fear.
What’s Behind Our Own Mask?
So, hate is an emotion of masks.
For all the reasons discussed above, I think Rick Berlin’s choice of a mask in the visual metaphor for hate was fitting and genius.
In summary, inspired by the song “How Can I Hate People I Don’t Know?” here are links I’ve found between masks and hate:
- We put masks on others. These are social categories
- We put masks on ourselves. These protect us from feeling our own negative emotions
- We hate the masks we see on others from behind our own mask.
- Hate’s energy comes from behind the mask of someone who is in distress
- When we use hate we create more distress, more pain, more fear, more masks, and more hate
So… How Can I Hate People I Don’t Know?
To answer Rick Berlin’s question, “How can I hate people I don’t know?” here is what I say:
We can hate people we don’t know by turning them into something we do know. Something we hate. We know categories. And we hate people in categories. When we apply category labels to strangers, we suddenly know them and can hate them.
The truth is, however, we still don’t know people, even when we categorize them. We don’t hate the real person. We just hate their mask. The one we put on their face.
Second, to answer Rick Berlin’s question “Why?” in the song, here is what I say:
We hate people because we’re protecting ourselves. We’re shielding ourselves from new experiences that might be negative, painful, or scary. Hate is a defensive emotion. It is an energy that seeks to drain the life out of someone else because the life has already been drained out of us. And rather than take back our own energy, or heal ourselves, we choose to suck the energy out of others.
Time to remove the masks.
Time to Heal
Underneath hate is always something else.
Underneath hate is the real you. The real me. Experiencing a deeper emotion.
It is time for us to face what is beneath our own mask.
We may find pain. We may find fear. That is okay. That is normal.
Allow yourself to a quiet moment to re-experience pain you’ve been avoiding. Let it come up. Then let it go. Release it.
There is a freedom that comes with facing your own negative emotions.
Let your own mask come off.
To learn more about re-experiencing negative memories safely, you might like this Fresh Philosopher video and post!
It is also time for us as a collective to release the need to label, categorize, mask, and hate others. It is time for us to allow others to be as they are.
There is a freedom that comes with releasing your unconscious labels.
Let us remove the masks we’ve placed on others.
When we do this work, we begin to express our authentic selves again. Without a mask. And that inspires others to do the same.
Together, we can begin to heal ourselves.
Together, we can begin to love people we don’t know.
I believe in you. I love you.
Dr. Erienne Weine
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