We’re all on the same internet, stop gatekeeping

A.J. Newth, Staff Writer

There is no such thing as a “fake fan.”

The internet can be a blackhole of manipulative theories, and gatekeeping is one of them. The Cambridge Dictionary defines gatekeeping in its essence as “the activity of trying to control who gets particular resources, power or opportunities, and who does not.”

I noticed the term “gatekeeping” became increasingly popular during the pandemic, which led to seeking out and exposing gatekeepers becoming a popular pastime for members of Generation Z on social media. All platforms have experienced some spike in gatekeeping fads, however, this trend is most frequent on TikTok, according to Bustle.

Gatekeeping can come in many forms, which is why it’s difficult to choose a side on whether or not gatekeeping is positive or negative. Being a gatekeeper could mean a celebrity refusing to share the brand of their favorite drink with fans for fear of it selling out, or it could mean withholding your favorite brownie recipe to a friend, according to Insider.

I feel that gatekeeping has the largest influence on the internet community, which largely consists of Generation Z and younger. It’s impossible to scroll too far on TikTok before running into a video in which you may like the creator’s outfit, recipe or activity of choice. Many viewers will choose to leave a comment asking where a piece of clothing is from out of curiosity or interest in that particular item.

The trouble comes when the creator withholds that information for no apparent reason except to keep it to themselves. Is a pair of leggings from Forever 21 really so special that it needs to be kept a secret? What happened to the online community of people who loved finding new things and sharing their discoveries with other users?

This is why we must go against gatekeeping, because it doesn’t only apply to Chrissy Teigen’s recipes or Gigi Hadid’s skin care tips, it comes from the average person and it’s toxic.

Another hotspot for gatekeeping is the idea that fans of media, music and television are gatekeepers because they refuse to share their fandom with newcomers, according to Forbes. Not every fandom is like this, and many “original” fans welcome new followers and subscribers with open arms. However, this is not always the case.

Music is a big target for potential gatekeeping. Many listeners will find a band that is considered “underground,” a term used to describe artists who are fairly new to the industry and mostly unknown. As these artists rise to fame, those original fans will tout their previous knowledge of the band or even withhold song names from other curious listeners, according to Musician Wave.

I believe gatekeeping music comes from a long history of glorifying band groupies, but trying to keep music private makes no sense. Music is for everyone and there’s no point in keeping it to yourself. As much as I support individuals having their own preferences, why not share them with others and celebrate a bond over a shared interest?

Melodies and rhythms are not the only victims of gatekeeping. Television, art and almost every media imaginable are also potential recipients. Content creators, streamers, celebrities and actors are all fair play in the world of gatekeeping and it needs to come to an end.

The purpose of media is to create enjoyment for the viewers. I don’t understand the point of claiming individuals are “fake fans” simply because they are new to the content. Our society is lucky enough to have the freedom to enjoy whatever content we want, so why not embrace that instead of closing it off?

I understand there is a distinct difference between privacy and gatekeeping. Some things should remain private, like keeping a location private to protect it from tourism, a popular choice by many locals in exotic places. Personal information is also another thing that should remain private. I do not consider these decisions to be examples of gatekeeping.

However, media should not be gatekept. Share your knowledge, your access and your opportunity with those around you and watch as an entire community is created over shared enjoyment. Imagine the friendships that can be built through appreciation of a new band, movie or artist.

Consider how many things you have in common with those around you. Is there a favorite television show that you enjoy with your friends? A favorite song that’s played in the car whenever you drive with a specific group of people? A favorite local restaurant that would not be the same without company?

Gatekeeping is such an unnecessary part of our internet culture. There is no point in discovering something and having no one to share it with. Media belongs to everyone, no matter if you’re the first fan or the last.