25 Apr

Karate-do & Social Media: Going Full Circle

Remember in the early 1990s when listserv was a new and exciting way to interact and exchange information on Karate-do. I remember logging in on my old modem in front of my giant green lit monitor and looking forward to reading what other like-minded people had written. Then came online groups like Egroups in the late 1990s and then blogs in the early 2000s. Although there was disagreement, in both of these platforms there was a sense of community. All of these have been eclipses by social media like Facebook, Instagram, Pintrest and others. Admittedly I tried some of these platforms and came away from them a little shocked and disappointed.

Most of the content on these new platforms is superficial. You had to wade through pages and pages of non-sense before you came across something of substance. Even then it is followed by a never-ending list of childish comments and ad hominem attacks. However, that is preferable to the ceaseless posts on kata, training and performance videos uploaded to these sites by karateka that are little more then self-advertisement. Each is carefully videoed, edited and curated to present her in the best possible light. As University of Michigan psychologist Eliot Panek has commented,

“[they] offer users near complete control over self-presentations, making them a useful venue for the deployment of strategic interpersonal behaviors that narcissists use to construct and maintain a carefully considered self-image (1).”

With such vanity on display, I wonder what the old-timers like Funakoshi, Motobu and Mabuni would have thought. Indeed, isn’t Matsumura Sokon quoted as writing,

To all those whose progress remains hampered by ego-related distractions, let humility – the spiritual cornerstone upon which Karate rests – serve to remind one to place virtue before vice, values before vanity and principles before personalities (2).

With all this nonsense going on in the Karate-do world and the recent acceptance of Karate-do into the 2022 Olympic games (more on that in the future), a few months ago I deleted my social media accounts and haven’t looked back. Although it was nice to interact with a few people through them, I found that the drawbacks far out-weighted the advantages. On the contrary, I could easily maintain contact with them through other means. Overall, I feel much better and have recovered some of my precious time.

Ironically, having shut-down this blog over a year ago, I now find myself turning to it as a means of organizing and expressing my thoughts on Okinawa Karate-do and Kobudo. I doubt I will post as frequently as I did before, but I am more inclined now to use it as a quiet refuge for that purpose in contrast to the insistent noise of social media.

(1) https://newrepublic.com/article/116209/study-twitter-narcissists-facebook-egotists

(2) http://www.koryu-uchinadi.org/Beyond_Physical_Training.pdf