Feudal Japan’s Haiku Clubs A Pre-cursor of Modern-day Twitter?

I recently finished watching “Japan: Memoirs of a Secret Empire” [ Netflix | PBS | Amazon ]. It’s a three-part documentary that centers around the 16th & 17th centuries (where a vast majority of my favorite samurai movies are set).

In the third part there is a segment on the four-tier class system. It goes into some detail on how the decline of the samurai (due to a time of significant peace) and the increase in trade facilitated the erosion of societal taboos that previously prevented classes from mingling. Apart from the creation of a new merchant-inspired class and an increase in the frequenting of courtesans there was also the mention of “haiku clubs” where (quoting from the documentary) “members chose pen names to obscure their social rank. That way, the classes could mingle freely“.

In a similar way, Twitter (and many forums before it) is the great equalizer with the added similarity of brevity (and often a gravity well for some modern day haiku fanatics). I don’t have any statistics, but I do wonder if Twitter is having a more equalizing impact on societies where class and overt discrimination are still wildly prevalent (think India or Saudi Arabia).

as avatars tweet
modern words become equal
history repeats
Cover image from Data-Driven Security
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