IE 11 is not supported. For an optimal experience visit our site on another browser.

Gen Z is reclaiming what it means to be a hater

A clip of a song called “Haters Anthem” has inspired many on TikTok to embrace the label.
Screenshot from music group Infinity Song's viral video "Hater's Anthem" with "Hater" stickers overlaid on top of their faces
A clip of the band Infinity Song’s “Haters Anthem" has gone viral on TikTok since it was posted last month.Leila Register / NBC News; @infinitysongofficial via TikTok

The haters are always gonna hate — except, lately, when it comes to being called a hater. 

While the label has long carried a negative connotation — often used as a searing indictment of a person’s judgmental or unsupportive character — it’s now being embraced online by some Gen Zers who believe being a hater isn’t necessarily a bad thing. 

That’s partly thanks to the rock group Infinity Song’s “Haters Anthem,” which has gone viral on TikTok since a clip of it was posted last month. The full song debuts this month.

The catchy song’s lyrics — “I love the way it feels to be a hater/Something so sweet about thinking that I’m better” — have become a sort of rallying cry for the over 43,000 TikTokers who use the audio in their own videos to capture themselves embracing their inner hater. 

Even actor Keke Palmer and rapper Doja Cat leaned in to the song, sharing a video of the band on their Instagram stories this month.

Some TikTok users post videos using “Haters Anthem” to confess to their hater-esque tendencies — for example, lying about thinking someone’s dog is cute, when in reality it’s “crusty,” or unliking every single post of someone who you discovered unfollowed you. 

Being a hater is “having something to say,” said Glenda Vanderkam, 24, who is among the many using the audio to embrace her truth on TikTok. 

“I literally live in people’s comments on TikTok,” added Vanderkam, who called herself a “professional hater” in her TikTok video. “Sometimes we just want to give constructive criticism.”

It can also be about expressing a new sense of humor, Vanderkam said, describing use of the hater label as “a little bit of a joke.” 

Even so, the self-proclaimed haters who spoke with NBC News said haters still have to be wary of boundaries when they make comments that could offend others.

For example, Danni Wedic, 20, said she wouldn’t hate on others for no reason. 

“Hating is something I naturally do when I see something that disgusts me, such as people having disrespectful attitudes towards others,” said Wedic, who also posted a video on TikTok using the audio.

To her, being a hater is natural given Gen Z’s vocal nature and upbringing on the internet. 

“People feel more confident to express how they feel,” she said.

Oli Wiggins, 25, said that as a queer person of color growing up in a predominantly white environment, they often struggled with feeling inadequate. “Haters Anthem” encapsulates their journey rejecting unrealistic social norms.

Intermittently, every person has been a hater.

— israel boyd, a member of infinity song

“Be a hater to people who have disenfranchised you,” said Wiggins, who posted a TikTok video of themselves with the audio in the background. “And have such a high ego when it comes to loving yourself and living authentically, and if living authentically means you got to be a little bit mean sometimes, hey, so be it.”

Infinity Song said the anthem wasn’t intended to be an endorsement of haters. 

In an interview, the band — whose members are siblings Abraham, Angel, Israel, Momo and Victory Boyd — said “Haters Anthem” is more about introspection than about uplifting or shaming anyone.

“It’s a self-reflective piece,” said Momo Boyd, who wrote the song. “It’s holding a mirror up to yourself and your daily destructive habits and how that may manifest in the way that you interact with people in your everyday life and then people that you also see on the internet."

Israel Boyd said “intermittently, every person has been a hater.” 

“It’s a natural occurrence,” he said. “It’s getting through it that shows the maturity and how well you’ve evolved as a person.”

Regardless of how people interpret the song, the band’s members said they love and appreciate all of the social media engagement.

“Once we release it, it doesn’t belong to us anymore,” Abraham Boyd said. “It belongs to the people who consume it.”