This blog post is completely thanks to a comment I got on a recent TikTok video.
The video consisted of photos I took a couple of days ago in a town a few hours drive away from the small ski resort I currently work at. The whole point of the video was the pretty photos that showcased the beautiful nature in this area. I did not disclose the town name or name of the ski resort as I knew this would give away my exact location to the probably biggest social media platform currently out there.
I follow a few travel influencers on social media and all of them seem to walk the line between sharing their lifes and trying not to overshare to stay safe. Some are comfortable sharing their current work location. I personally am not.
Let me quickly share the comment with you, so you can get a feel for it yourself:
I love how you didn’t share the name of the town or ski resort that you work at.
I was honestly taken aback. The comment had already started to gain likes and the video was gaining further traction with people guessing the town and ski resort anyway. I took it down. Why would someone need to know this exact information and need me to publicly share it?
However, that wasn’t enough for this commenter. He also went to my Instagram to comment on my photos about where I am currently working.
Where is the ski resort????
At this stage, I was extremely uncomfortable. Why would one person need to know THIS badly about where I currently work? Even if you liked the pictures and want to know where this is, isn’t it clear from my lack of posting the exact location that I don’t want to disclose it while I am still in said location? Is that really so shocking?
If it really is that important to you, why not privately message and ask (and maybe give a reason why this information is so crucial to you that you are stalking my social channels).
TikTok and Gatekeeping
Urban dictionary defines ‘gatekeeping’ as “When someone takes it upon themselves to decide who does or does not have access or rights to a community or identity.”
Users on TikTok usually like to throw the term around whenever someone doesn’t share the exact details they want to know, e.g. the exact eyeshadow used in a makeup tutorial, the exact brand of food in a recipe or the exact location of a photo location.
My issue is the lack of distinction between ‘gatekeeping’ and ‘sharing potentially dangerous information with people on the Internet such as your current location’.
You should NEVER feel obligated to share your current whereabouts with strangers. In fact, all digital security experts will tell you to never do so. While it is often not as dramatic, it can also be dangerous if the wrong person decides to take an interest in it.
Personally, I am upset at this commenter because he made me feel actively uncomfortable and unsafe. The fact that you need to know THIS badly which ski resort I was referring to is a massive red flag. In fact, it is the exact reason I did not disclose the name of it or the town I was sharing pictures of.
The whole thing is making me feel unsure of how to proceed. On the one hand, I enjoy creating content and want to share the pretty pictures I take and moments that make me hold my breath. Moments where I know that I made the right choice by moving across the world for a year. On the other hand, if some harmless pictures already caused this much discomfort, is it really worth going forward? I’d like to hear your opinions in the comments.
My overall takeaway is that TikTok is an amazing platform but also the platform that expects you to share every aspect of your life, whether you are comfortable with that or not. TikTok users often comment quickly without thinking about the why of other people’s decisions. I assure you, 90% of the time the person posting a video is not withholding information for malicious reasons. In fact, I bet you that 90% of the time there is a valid reason for information missing or possible gaps in the video.
TikTok is a free platform and many creators don’t make money from their videos. They are simply for your enjoyment and if you don’t enjoy the content, it takes less than a second to scroll away and never see that person again. Why bother commenting in the first place?