The internet gives everyone a voice, sometimes this is a good thing, mostly it isn’t. Some people who do have a platform for being good at one thing should really think carefully before crossing into other realms, Kyrie Irving & his flat earth discussion springs to mind. A huge problem that it has created is that people are confused as to who to listen to and whose opinion is actually worth noting. This line has become very blurred in recent times. If I need some info I’m savvy enough to go to someone with credibility in their respected field, I’m starting to think I’m one of the minority, this could not be more apparent than in the martial arts industry.
Most people just like in the above video above assume the action of others in an attempt to be just like everyone else ie to follow the masses. This is refereed to as social proofing. It is based on the idea that since so many other people behave in a certain way, it must be the correct behaviour. I’m guilty of this with food, if I go to China town where the food may be described as a gamble, I usually go to the busiest store making the assumption the food must be a) good & b) safe, with no idea as to whether this is the case or not. I inadvertently just follow everyone else.
Quite often you will see a controversial post on a forum & the masses oppose it regardless of the how persuasive or even conclusive the argument may be. It’s easy just to go with the majority, less headaches, less backlash & besides I’m sure the more people who share this opinion automatically mean’s its right, right? My year 9 teacher talking about Robert Frosts ‘The road not taken’ finally makes sense!
Marketers ‘reinforce’ how good their product/service is by enlisting the help of a celebrity. This is why anything to do with Bruce Lee is accepted by almost everyone when the discussion is martial arts, even if his words or actions appear dubious. Having said that they have seen him defeat a myriad of people, does it really matter if it was a movie? Appears not to, people seem to have trouble distinguishing between reality and fantasy. Please note: the following clip is from a MOVIE!!!!!!!!
Then there’s other ‘celebrities’ or names that people tend to respond to & that’s the ‘Influencers’. You know the girls of instagram who have little knowledge of what they are selling, they just so happen to be genetically blessed. I’ve seen this too many times where I encourage a female client to get on the squat rack but they’d rather pull out the booty bands to work their glutes because of all these ‘influencers’. But hey they have a million followers so it must be legit? The same with martial arts, there is a subculture of martial influencers out there with huge followings, but if you scrutinize their work and their offerings you may see that it lacks validity. Perhaps they are just good at multimedia and present well, they look good on screen with a good presence, with excellent cinematography skills & post production editing but is that really enough to classify them as an expert? Some of them turn out content continually to feed the masses and to keep riding the wave of attention however quite often there’s little quality control & they are once again extending beyond their range. Are we tuning in to a talk show to watch the host or their guests? The general population is easily seduced by these approaches whereas I wouldn’t care if it was written on a piece of toilet paper, if its good its good! It reminds me of culinary presentation to me the pic below has no substance, this is not a mouth watering dish but it’s all in the presentation right?
Another phenomena is the ‘halo effect’ coined by psychologist Edward Thorndike. This is where we make judgments based on our overall impression of someone. This includes all the aforementioned such as they have been on television or in movies, the manner in which they have been portrayed or their social media presence. This is where presentation is key, it pays to be good looking! Or you can do what is quite common in this industry and lie through your teeth to create a persona that would be tough to live up to! I’m sure you could create a lengthy list of candidates!
Others increase their social media presence or their perceived level of ‘expertise’ by pandering to their audience. One video is well received therefore lets stick with that formula. It's the audience that keeps the views and likes up, the sales high and the monetary contributions, and if you upset them, they can just go elsewhere. Let’s keep our opinions in line with theirs so they keep coming back and bringing all the dollars with them.
This is why it’s important to look at the industry through an objective lens, look beyond the superficial. Watch the next UFC with the commentary off, you may see a totally different fight!. Same with videos/blogs and anything you see, shut out anything that may cause bias and judge it for what it truly is. It's ok to disagree with someone if you have a valid argument or reasoning as to why that is, this should be encouraged. You have that same right to an opinion, just use it wisely!