Today I want to talk about a topic that gets me angrier than your grandmother when the mailman is running late: gatekeeping hobbies. I know I’ve talked about this before, but gatekeepers annoy the hell out of me, and since I was thinking about it, I thought you should too. This is kind of a long one, so strap in.
If you’re not familiar with the term, let’s get nerdy for a minute. “Gatekeeping refers to the act of setting arbitrary rules or standards around a particular activity or interest and then using those rules to exclude others who don’t meet those standards.” And boy, do some people take it seriously. These folks are the kids who became hall monitors – back in the day when hall monitors were a thing in school – and fell in love with the power. They were so taken with their own righteousness that they were giving out demerits willy-nilly and burning bridges at the same time.
Back then you couldn’t go to the bathroom without a note. Now, you can’t like something or do something as a hobby, until you prove yourself somehow worthy.
You’re not a “real” fan of a particular band unless you know every single song on every single album. The ones who sneer at your attempts to learn a new skill because you’re not a “natural.” The ones who insist that the only way to enjoy a particular hobby is to spend a not-so-small fortune on equipment or materials. You know, rich assholes.
This isn’t just annoying.
When people start gatekeeping hobbies, they’re not just saying that certain people aren’t welcome. They’re saying that certain people aren’t good enough. They’re reinforcing the idea that there are “right” and “wrong” ways to enjoy things, and that if you don’t do it their way, you’re doing it wrong.
But here’s the thing: there is no “right” way to enjoy a hobby. What if my hobby is to watch seasons of Friends out of order from the last season to the first. Are there rules? Is it allowed? Do I give a shit what your opinion is? No. Yes. No. Those are my answers.
“You can’t watch the show like that.” Why? Will the universe collapse on itself? If so, I think we need to ask ourselves, do we care? I mean, have you seen the state of the world today? I digress. But the truth of it is, I have done this, and we’re all still here. So there’s that.
Side note: Oddly enough watching the show backwards, the cast somehow goes from young looking to old looking. Figure that one out.
Another example. Twitter adults (yes, adults) were roasting the young people who had just discovered Metallica through the show Stranger Things. Now personally, if you’re gonna roast anyone, it should be the adults who never introduced their kids to Metallica in the first place. The very same adults who are now on Twitter gatekeeping Metallica’s music. Kudos to Metallica for jumping in and shutting that shit down.
Sadly, gatekeeping is not alone… it has an even more self-righteous little cousin – what I call Virtuous Judging. And this is what got me started on this rant today.
Are you judging someone in what you think is a positive way? Yeah, that’s still judging, people! Plus, it’s not positive – it’s condescending, even if you’re not saying it out loud. I get that you might have good intentions, but how about you go about your day without always thinking about what other people are doing. Condescending thoughts are still condescending because they give you the illusion that your opinion should matter to the people you’re judging.
The person who wrote this meme is probably patting themselves on the back for having such altruistic thoughts, but why do they even care why anyone’s at the gym? No one cares what you think. People are just trying to live their lives in relative peace. Their existence doesn’t need to be judged by you. They don’t require your validation. Mind your business. Leave. People. Alone.
Whether you’re judging and gatekeeping someone out loud or just in your mind, stop. I mean, it’s easy enough. Just don’t do that.
We need to just do ourselves and not in a “that’s what she said” way. If we worry about ourselves, and everyone does the same, then we’d all be responsible for ourselves and it would be so much easier to take care of ourselves with no judgment, even from ourselves.
And if you were playing a drinking game and every time I wrote “ourselves” you took a shot, you need to give your keys to someone now. Maybe go lay down.