When You Feel Like You Just Don't Like People
Some statements I've heard from people who are quite lonely and socially isolated are:
- "I just don't like other people. Honestly, that's why I don't have any friends."
- "I hate people. People suck. That's the reason I'm alone."
- "I hardly ever meet anyone I can relate to. Most people are self-absorbed jerks who only seem to care about gossiping and acting like idiots."
Below are my thoughts on this not uncommon sentiment. As you can probably guess I don't think this issue is a one-sided matter of 'People actually do suck' or, "You're just discouraged and angry. It's all in your head." When someone comes to feel this way there's often a lot going on.
Thinking you don't like people may be a totally reasonable conclusion based on your life so far
In my observations people who think like this often haven't had the best interactions with others up until that point in their lives. They're lonely and socially inexperienced. They don't look at other people and think 'rewarding relationships'. Such a thing may have never have happened for them.
When they try to make friends they may get ignored or shut down. They may have been misunderstood and picked on by their classmates all through school. People may routinely overlook or subtly disrespect them. They may have unsympathetic, rejecting family members ("Why do you hide in your room all weekend? You should join a sports team like your brother"). At the present their only social interactions may be with their annoying co-workers, and their prickly, nitpicking boss. When that's all someone's known, where they haven't seen much of the good side of others, it's hardly surprising that they'd come to the conclusion that people suck.
It's easier to form a negative opinion of people when you're at a distance and view them in the abstract
If someone spends a lot of time alone, and their only social interactions are fleeting and superficial, a lot of the information they're receiving about other people is more general and abstract. They're not getting those firsthand experiences, like a fun night out with friends, that viscerally reinforce how great and funny and generous others can be. Instead they're reading articles about the latest bar-lowering hit reality TV show. They're hearing news about how everyone elected another corrupt windbag politician, or how a majority of the public supports a bigoted law, or how a bunch of far-off countries are mired in horrible atrocities. They're going on their favorite website and seeing how dumb the commenters have become lately. When you look at people from that detached viewpoint it's not so difficult to be down on your fellow man.
Many people who say this may naturally be more solitary and choosy about who they spend time with, or have quirky, different personalities
Having a tendency to like time by yourself, or being non-mainstream in your interests and personality, are not the same as feeling you generally dislike everyone. Though I'd guess that the two can sometimes be related. First, someone who fits this description may be more likely to have had poor experiences with other people, from being ostracized and unappreciated and whatnot. Next, their general attitude towards other may be one of "I can take or leave people, and most of them don't really do much for me." That perspective alone isn't inherently bad. But it's easy to see how with a string of unpleasant interactions that view could evolve into a more misanthropic one. Of course, this isn't to say having a less-sociable nature is the only route to feeling averse to people.
Saying you don't like people can be an attempt to make yourself feel better about your social situation
Not the deepest, most unintuitive insight here. I think most people who say they hate everyone are lonely and do want friends and meaningful relationships. They may be discouraged, or conflicted, or gun shy and wary about the whole idea, but they still want closer connections deep down. However, maybe a minority really do have no use for other people, and if they want to do their own thing and not worry about socializing, that's their decision to make.
A lot of people may be isolated and feeling hopeless about their chances of creating a successful social life for themselves. Saying you don't actually like people can take some of that pain away. You're telling yourself you don't care about what you think you can't have, or you're devaluing something you want so the lack of it doesn't bother you as much.
If you manage to have more fulfilling interactions with people the feelings will likely go away
You knew this point was coming. If you're really in the depths of social isolation, and you have some social skills gaps, anxiety issues, or emotional baggage that's getting in the way, then it can be hard to imagine you may one day have a life where you have a solid group of friends and you generally appreciate people's company. If you do start addressing your problems you'll likely find your opinion of people will begin to turn around, as you start to have more intrinsically rewarding interactions.
These articles talk about some closely related points. First, disliking people may go hand-in-hand with an attitude that you're better than others. The two aren't always connected though:
This one may help diffuse a general sentiment that other people are shallow and vacuous on the whole:
Finally, feeling really down on other people may be a symptom of depression, which can make your thoughts become really negative and sabotaging: