Friday, September 13, 2013

Gatekeeper Society

Some communities figure that having a 'gatekeeper' mentality will ensure that only the best will be within their group. They believe this will maximize the enjoyment of those encouraged to remain, and foster community growth of the best kind. It may be well meant but it just doesn't seem to work! Such societies regularly fail everywhere: be they online, planned developments, elitist communes...whatever!

Using an elitist principle seems to bring out the worst in human nature, and proves stifling even to 'valued members' - since all they do must pass muster with (be seen as valuable by) the ruling elite. The tendency for the rank and file is to become hierarchical and competitive, which is never a welcoming environment for newcomers. Older members tend to flaunt their seniority anyway, add in a filter that declares regular human attributes unacceptable and you create a recipe for a dwindling group, a number of whom will be acting out in unpleasant ways.

I've seen the noble intention of inviting the noble/creative/intelligent into a protective environment derail into judging members as ugly internal politicking heated up. Skilled manipulators will tend to defame as 'unworthy' -members who don't support their goals of control and/or could prove to be competition. You would think that a person's personality, ethics, or skills would be evident, but people are easily swayed (primed) to agree, especially when they are trying to get along too hard. I think the problem is that so many 'good' attributes are subjective, and may even be defined by political/racist/ageist/religious leanings or even what appeals to someone's mouthy power clique as opposed to being based upon a mutually agreed upon set of parameters.

In time, even the 'gatekeepers' may be derided to suit someone else's bid for power. Any snarkiness or inner ring games already available will be used. The battle for power can be an ugly one, even in an alleged meritocracy. Only when courteous behavior is the rule do you have a reasonable basis for banning such games. If any excuse exists to permit rude behavior, it will be used. In fact, the excuses may be planned well in advance of the attack.

This is why I say the judgy opposite approach can create many bad feelings, fracture community spirit, and limit creativity, because people may fear to show anything they aren't sure will be appreciated.

Having a welcoming spirit, gentle ways, and a loving - enforced- code of conduct works far better. Trolls can be evicted fairly and everyone else learns to play together nicely. Then a sharing atmosphere encourages not only the obviously smart, extroverted, creative types, but also the hidden talents shyly scribbling in the corners. Besides, even the most creative types appreciate a well-mannered audience. IMO Kindly, courteous freedom is the only path that works.

[Another post that FB is not allowing through, so I am repeating it here. Photo from]

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