Social networks and media are templates for humanity to develop multi-dimensional/spiritual abilities. Greek myth is just one “instruction manual” for application of this metaphor. One could identify the JOURNEY of BOTH the individual AND the community in social networks WITH Psyche’s journey toward Eros in the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros. For the Greeks, the essence of Eros is the unfoldment of human thought, and in Greek philosophy, he is described as a liberating agent who releases and activates the creative process of the mind. Eros inspires and opens the channel of intuition to the higher and abstract understanding and communion with beauty and truth. The myth of Eros and Psyche describes in detail the inner process of transformation.
One could identify the JOURNEY of BOTH the individual AND the community in social networks WITH Psyche’s journey toward Eros in the Greek myth of Psyche and Eros. For the Greeks, the essence of Eros is the unfoldment of human thought, and in Greek philosophy, he is described as a liberating agent who releases and activates the creative process of the mind. Eros inspires and opens the channel of intuition to the higher and abstract understanding and communion with beauty and truth. The myth of Eros and Psyche describes in detail the inner process of transformation.
To begin, here is a shortened version of the tale:
ONCE UPON A TIME there was a king with three daughters. They were all beautiful, but by far the most beautiful was the youngest, Psyche. She was so beautiful that people began to neglect the worship of Venus, the goddess of love and beauty. Venus was very jealous, and asked her son Cupid (the boy with the arrows) to make Psyche fall in love with a horrible monster. When he saw how beautiful she was, Cupid dropped the arrow meant for her and pricked himself, and fell in love with her.
Despite her great beauty no-one wanted to marry Psyche. Her parents consulted an oracle, and were told that she was destined to marry a monster, and they were to take her to the top of a mountain and leave her there. The west wind took her and wafted her away to a palace, where she was waited on by invisible servants. When night came her new husband visited her, and told her that he would always visit her by night and she must never try to see him.
Although her invisible husband was kind and gentle with her, and the invisible servants attended to her every desire, Psyche grew homesick. She persuaded her husband to allow her sisters to visit her. When they saw how she lived they became very jealous and talked Psyche into peeking at her husband, saying that he was a monster who was fattening her up to be eaten and that her only chance of safety was to kill him. Psyche took a lamp and a knife, but when she saw her beautiful husband, Cupid, she was so surprised she dripped some hot wax onto his shoulder, waking him. He took in the situation at a glance and immediately left Psyche and the magnificent palace she had been living in disappeared in a puff of smoke.
Psyche roamed about looking for her husband, and eventually in desperation approached his mother, Venus. Still angry, the goddess set various tasks for Psyche, all of which she passed, with a bit of help from ants and river gods. At last Cupid found out what was going on, and he persuaded Jupiter to order Venus to stop her persecution of Psyche. Then they were married and lived happily ever after – and it really was ever after since Psyche was made a goddess.
According to JEAN SHINODA-BOLEN, “In the Greek myth of Eros and Psyche, Psyche’s story is about the growth of the soul that began with her decision to face the truth, and led her to being on her own, challenged to complete tasks that were initially beyond her ability to perform. In the myth, her unseen bridegroom would come to her in the dark of the night and be gone by morning. Metaphorically, she was in an unconscious relationship. Fearing that he could be a monster, Psyche followed her sister’s advice, hid a lamp and a knife, and waited until he had fallen asleep. She needed the lamp to see him, and the knife to cut off his head if indeed her were a monster.”
“These two symbols, the lamp and the knife, are both necessary for a psyche–for a soul–to act decisively when we know the truth. The ‘lamp’ is a symbol of illumination, of consciousness, the means of seeing a situation clearly. The knife, like the sword, is a symbol of decisive action, of the capacity to cut through confusion. The lamp without the knife is not adequate; it is insight into the situation with the capacity to act upon this perception.”
“Myths and symbols are in the language of the soul. A myth helps us to take a situation to heart and know what we must do: if it is to see the truth and act upon it, then the image of Psyche with her sword provides a magic perspective. A symbolic object can then be a talisman that helps us to do what we need to do. Like passing a literal torch, these are rituals that empower us by infusing an act with a deeper meaning. To think and act this way is magical, metaphoric thinking that can call forth the qualities we need from within ourselves and may also tap into sources of help that lie beyond us.”
I submit that the social fabric of the internet IS the fabric of humanity’s collective soul. I also suggest that the tale of Psyche and Eros is a template for one’s journey into the complex eco-systems of social networks. In keeping with this metaphor, one has a real working metaphor that may act as a template, NOT ONLY for the INDIVIDUAL but also for the BRAND andCORPORATION. Brian Solis’ Behaviorgraphics images the action of one who gets how to access the heart of this collective digital environment. Pair Behaviorgraphics WITH his Conversation Prism and you have a philosophy of engaging not only a customer, a competitor and a market BUT also one’s own unique gift and contribution to the world at large.
I submit that Psyche’s journey and the tasks she undertook to reach Eros IS a model for successful engagement by a BRAND of its target audience.
What were her tasks and HOW does this look from a marketing standpoint?
a) SORTING OF THE SEEDS: Intelligence gathering and listening. Psyche’s first task is to sort all the seeds that are heaped up in a room. This is a wonderful metaphor for all of the possibilities before a brand. Sorting the seed is really taking stock. What are all of the seeds of possibility in the psyche of your brand? What belongs where? WhichFacebook Groups, Key Influencers in blogs, Twitter, YouTube channels and in forums are worth engaging with? (read more on the importance of listening to the social fabric of the internet)
b) THE GOLDEN FLEECE: Timing and correct audience for an offering. The second task of Psyche is to get some golden fleece from the violent rams of the sun, gather a small amount of it, and bring it to Aphrodite. This takes strategy. Some of the best examples of effective strategists come from the extremely competitive environments of sports and warfare. Military strategy in particular provides a template for marketers as they move out into the social fabric of the internet and command a particular market space. Here is a simple outline of HOW to move into the social space of the internet for enterprise-level businesses. And here is THE template for SCENARIO PLANNING straight from center of military strategy 101.
c) CRYSTAL GOBLET OF WATER: Developing content that has depth and purchase with an audience. In the myth, Psyche has to deliver something of great value that is actually from the shadow realm – water from the River Styx: an image of being quenched by “hidden” wisdom and all the value such a quenching entails. This is the basis effective and engaging content theory: original, living/breathing messaging that comes from a place of depth.
Great content contains effective memes, or word-creatures, the weavers of this living tissue that we call the social fabric of the internet. Quotes, one-liners and personal news in the form of tweets and status updates are examples of word-creatures that move through individual and communal minds/hearts to what end none of us may ever know. These thought-animals consume the attention of a community, grow larger, and move deeper into the texture of the community.
Eros IS a powerful archetypal force in the action of these thought-animals. Civilization is a process in the service of Eros, whose purpose is to combine single human individuals, and after that families, then races, peoples and nations, into one great unity, the unity of mankind. Why this has to happen, we do not know; the work of Eros is precisely this. Great content is informed by the greek god Eros. It is lyrical and attracts.
d) PERSEPHONE’S BEAUTY: In her fourth task, Psyche descends into Hades to retrieve some of Persephone’s beauty for Aphrodite. Psyche is given a box to carry the beauty in. To do this task requires incredible focus and compliance with a list of complicated instructions – things to do and NOT to do.
Again, with this task, we return to the psyche’s connection with what is real for an audience: image vs. reality, the cover of a book vs. the full text, and an engagement + lifetime relationship with the customer developed. In the fourth task, it could be said that Psyche undergoes a kind of ego-death in order to serve love. This love of the demographic we are marketing to really captures the identity of today’s most effective marketers. Immersion in the “underworld”, in the shadows AND beauty of the target customer within that demographic gives a marketer insight and a kind of hypnotic power over the audience. To know a demographics shadow, both in negative and positive potential, yields a FULL knowing of the OTHER. The value of understanding what is “hidden” within a demographic’s collective psyche is priceless. A fabulous example of such an exploration may found in books like Karma Queens, Geek Gods and Innerpreneurs: Meet the 9 Consumer Types Shaping Today’s Marketplace. In this book, the author has delved deeply into the internal complexity of his market’s psychic complexion and the result is a fantastic study of that demographic. Read it!
To continue, Psyche goes all the way with this fourth task and is brought back to life through Eros’ kiss in the end. The image here is of giving oneself IN SERVICE and doing EVERY single action required to reach the center of the customer’s heart.
A fabulous condensation of HOW social business pros REACH THE CENTER OF THE CUSTOMER’S HEART, with REAL case studies, has been assembled by ANN MACK (Director of Trendspotting at JWT Intelligence) in her June 2010 Social Media Checklist. Ann has identified 18 global experts in social business integration and outlined the powerful process of ENGAGEMENT, the heart of social business practice! Another recommended read!