If you come across a critical, satirical sentence such as “Gaslight, gatekeeping, girlboss” on social media or the people you follow are accused of gatekeeping and you cannot make any sense of these words, this article is for you! You may have heard and know the words gaslight and girlboss, which entered our lives for the first time through TikTok and settled in the language of the Z generation. ,
What about “gatekeeping”? Have you ever asked a friend where they bought those beautiful trousers they were wearing and received a very vague or even lying answer? This moment is called gatekeeping. What is gatekeeping? What are its negative and positive effects? We researched for you!
What does gatekeeping mean?
These people could decide who could and could not enter the city, the palace, the “other world”, whatever they were guarding. Later on – as the fortifications gradually disappeared – what these gatekeepers guarded was not cities but information. The most recognised gatekeepers change from soldiers guarding the walls to journalists, editors and influencers who have caused the word to become so viral.
Gatekeeping has an undeniable place in journalism. Journalists who investigate all the details of a news story can convey to readers the most important, relevant and striking points from a subjective perspective, information that can be proven with concrete evidence. They naturally keep the rest of the information to themselves. In fact, most news items pass through many different “doors”; editors, proofreaders and editorial directors until they reach their final version. Information that is not added or crossed out between all these stages is also “gatekeeped”.
In an example of good journalism, such gatekeeping should not harm the society, and should even be beneficial, as it provides reliable and evidence-based news and does not leave room for speculation and insensitivity. On the other hand, in news channels where journalistic principles are not transparently applied and biased behaviour is displayed, there is a serious risk of gatekeeping causing social harm.
When do we do gatekeeping?
At first glance, the act of gatekeeping, which we think does not concern us much, is actually something we do a lot in our daily lives or are exposed to from our surroundings. We live in the age of “influencers” where a product, film, restaurant, lifestyle is constantly recommended to us. We can ask the name of the person who makes, wears, travels, tries whatever we see on the screen and like, try to learn the truth, and even ask for a direct link! We live an “accessible” life where we think we can reach every information we are curious about with a few messages, comments or Google searches.
A single “keeping secret” is enough to break this illusion. The fact that a famous name does not share the make-up products he uses in his viral Instagram post, that “cool” friend who does not tell his favourite music bands or films when asked can infuriate us in an instant. Keeping information that we think should be public and “public” secret from us can cause us to see the people who do this as arrogant, arrogant, antipathetic or even malicious.
On the other hand, gatekeeping does not only belong to journalists, celebrities or influencers. We can also be held responsible for gatekeeping in social situations. Avoiding telling people who are curious about our perfume what brand it is, not sharing how our startup is so successful, not telling everyone all the “tips” that improve our lives are among the examples of gatekeeping that we get angry when it is done to us.
Is gatekeeping good or bad?
Unfortunately, gatekeeping is present in a large part of our lives. In the big picture, those who govern us, big international companies, supranational organisations are constantly hiding important information from us. We are exposed to the gatekeeping of celebrities, influencers we follow on a daily basis, our colleagues whom we cannot get answers to our questions, or we do “non-malicious” gatekeeping to our environment. So, in essence, is gatekeeping good or bad? The answer to this question depends entirely on what kind of information is stored.
On a more positive note, gatekeeping can be particularly useful for protecting emerging artists and artworks. Big fan bases create big expectations. Emerging writers, artists and musicians who have achieved great fame with their first works can be subjected to fierce criticism when they release their next work. The careers of artists who fail to live up to the perhaps unreasonably high expectations of their fans can come to an unjust end in an instant. At this point, some “gatekeeping” may be necessary to protect these names and their works.
A similar situation can also occur for newly opened restaurants, cafes and bars. Places that suddenly become famous and have queues at the door may experience overload due to lack of experience, labour force or financial resources. As a result, they may provide poor service. At the end of the day, this can lead to their “fall from fame” or even closure in front of everyone’s eyes.