Philosophy is to social media as fish is to bicycle


What do ancient philosophy and social media have in common? Well, let’s see. In a possible world in which Aristotle transcends time to come face-to-face with the social team at Facebook HQ; he stands there in his toga and sandals and asks everyone to stop rushing around and sit cross-legged on the floor for a moment of metaphysical contemplation. The social team stares at him blankly in a vacuum of stunned silence, before darting their collective heads back to the future and keeping their fingers tapping firmly away at the technical revolution.

Me: “Sorry Aristotle, they just didn’t have time for contemplation.”

Aristotle: “Well when they do have time, could you please point them in the direction of Physics 239b11, I think they might like the Dichotomy paradox of motion.”

Me: “Sure thing Aristotle, you’re the man.”

The Dichotomy (Paraphrasing Aristotle, who in turn paraphrases Zeno of Elea)


It is impossible to walk from A to B. To get to B, you must first walk half way and this should take you half the total time of the journey, assuming you are in constant motion. To walk half way, you must first walk a quarter of the way (i.e. half way to half way) and even before you can walk a quarter of the way, you must walk an eighth of the way (i.e. half of half of half). Therein lies the problem: how do you even take a step forward from A, when the space in front of you can be divided an infinite number of times and should therefore take an infinite amount of time to cross? A bit like social media, no?

You’re a brand, you want to take a simple step from A (no social media integration) to B (successful social media integration). But, before you can reach successful social media integration, you need to know your brand voice. And before you know your brand voice, you need to know your strategy. And before you know your strategy you need to know your risks. Suddenly, the space between your brand and that ever-so-simple goal of reaching B starts dividing in front of you. And as the social media landscape continues to change at lightning speed, where do you even start?

The truth is that you can walk from A to B. You do it every day. But perhaps there’s comfort in knowing that a seemingly new and perplexing problem is reassuringly ancient.

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