Haters v. Appreciators

Wisdom from Robert Greene and J. Cole

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“Sun Tzu defined The Art of War in a way that I think will never be surpassed. He said The Art of War is to win with the minimum bloodshed and the minimum violence, and that if to win a war you have to shed a lot of blood you must not fight that war. An Artist of War tries to get as close to this ideal as possible. [….] A person who knows the Art of War actually creates less conflict around him or her less resistance and less problems.”

Robert Greene

Like an Artist of War tries to win the war with minimum bloodshed, an Artist of Social Media also tries to win the great online game with minimum bloodshed.

An Artist of Social Media doesn’t attack people or troll them for no reason. They don’t attack other artists unless it’s the only option. We all know of some people on social media who attack others frequently (and even build their reputation and career around). I don’t consider them artists. They’re critics LARPing as artists.

There are countless times when I want to attack someone—especially when they attack me first! My gut reaction is to clap back with an insult. But then I remember I’m not a critic—I’m a goddamn Artist and I’m above that shit.

Artists of Social Media don't waste their time starting beef and drama for no reason. Even when we’re attacked, we don’t attack back—unless absolutely necessary. Personally, I didn’t see a reason to attack a dude named after an octopus who writes about macroeconomics. Fuckin dork. Real artists invest time building each other up. We appreciate, we don’t hate.


I wrote a post this week about the rapper J. Cole that blew up—and even got the attention of Soulja Boy (more on that in a second).

What J. Cole is saying is true for rap is true for social media as well. The content you hate on (but secretly love), you should be learning from.

“This is basically the same realization I had about viral-focused Twitter threads like 2-3 years ago,” replied my friend Michael Houck. Like a lot of people, Houck hated viral threads and thought they were cringe, but realized he’d read them the same way J. Cole would dance to Soulja Boy even though he “hated” the music. So Houck stopped hating, started appreciating, and grew his audience to 50,000 on Twitter by writing threads.

My story is the same thing. I hated the viral threads and breakdowns, but then I realized I’d read all of it!!! I loved it! Why was I being a hater? Was I just jealous I wasn’t the one out there making it? Damn right I was jealous, and more than anything, I was mad at myself I wasn’t making viral content like that. So I sucked it up and started writing threads and going viral. I stopped being a hater, I started appreciating—and then I started winning the great online game.


Well, Soulja Boy is definitely not an appreciator.

Soulja Boy ended up seeing my tweet above, but I guess he didn’t watch the video because he proceeded to launch an attack on J. Cole. He thought J. Cole was hating on him so he started a beef and even hopped on Instagram Live to insult him. I accidentally started a rap beef. This is by far the weirdest thing that has ever happened to me on social media.

In game theory, there’s 2 concepts called zero-sum games and positive-sum games. In zero-sum games, only one person can win. In a positive-sum game, both players can win. When done right, social media is a positive-sum game.

People like Soulja Boy are playing zero-sum games, whereas appreciators like J. Cole are playing positive-sum games. Haters attack people to build themselves up. Appreciators understand that social media is a positive-sum game where everyone can win and make money and get attention on their work. We’re not afraid to boost up other artists because we know there’s enough dollars and attention to go around.

“The business world has many people playing zero-sum games and a few people playing positive-sum games searching for each other in the crowd.”

Naval Ravikant

Half of winning the great online game is finding the right positive-sum people to surround yourself with. That’s why I launched a Slack community this week (join it!). I spent 10+ years losing online and I think it’s because I was playing for so long on single-player mode. Just me and my computer. When I started making internet friends who genuinely wanted to see me win and were willing to help me, that’s when everything changed.

Whatever you do this week, don’t be a hater, be an appreciator. Build each other up. And oh yeah, GO MAKE SOME INTERNET FRIENDS.




I’ve been popping off on instagram with memeworthy vids 😂

Thanks for reading nerds.

Create some cool shit this week.

Jason Levin

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