On July 1 2020, twitter user Laureen Bazzi shared a tweet observing that “Thursday, October, and 8:00pm are all the same,” which ended up racking up a lot of attention:
idk how to explain this but thursday, october, and 8:00pm are all the same
— Laureen Bazzi (@laureenbazzi) July 1, 2020
If the claim October, Thursdays, and 8 o’clock at night sounded accurate to you, you’re not alone. Several Twitter users chimed in to share their assessment of the claim alongside similar items (or things which didn’t entirely fit):
And 5:00, red, Wednesday and April are all the same. Idk how to explain
— depressed helen (@jollyHelen3) July 3, 2020
I completely understand this and I'm shook someone else has somehow gathered my thoughts and posted this on the internet
— starchild🌟 (@mdiva97) July 3, 2020
Thursday and October are orange but 8pm is purple
— Mara (she/her) (@mmmergz) July 3, 2020
I been starin at this tweet for 10 min
— Dave (@david_vonmering) July 3, 2020
Others pointed out that the claim was very similar to a plot device on the show The Good Place, involving the manner in which time functioned in the program’s afterlife and described as “Jeremy Bearimy”:
The Jeremy Bearimy Timeline is the way that time in the afterlife flows relative to time on Earth. In the afterlife, time moves in a “Jeremy Bearimy,” as explained by Michael in an episode of the same name.
This means that time moves along Earth’s timeline as if it were the cursive English word “Jeremy Bearimy.” The dot over the “I” in Jeremy Bearimy is an isolated point on the timeline which contains Tuesdays, July, and “occasionally…the time moment where nothing never occurs.”
— John Yacoubian 😷 (@BossesMemphis) July 3, 2020
The Math on Thursday, October, and 8 O’Clock at Night
Some users posited that when placed in terms of math, all three disparate things — a day of the week, a month of the year, and a time of the day — were “similar”:
They’re all 3/4 of the way through something it makes perfect sense
— Ahmed (@DocAck23) July 1, 2020
October is the 10th month because someone screwed up the names but you're on to something:
October 10/12 months
Thursday 4/5 weekdays or 5/7 days
8pm 20/24 hours
Proportionately they're similar and also they're often two items away from the end of a series.
— Wibberrrrrrr128 💻🖥️🖱️ (@wibrr) July 3, 2020
One response from the apt handle @gonzologic shared a screenshot maintaining that October was the tenth of twelve months, that 8 PM occurred after five-sixths of the day, and Thursday was the fifth of seven days in a week. In other words, they were proportionally similar in their individual contexts:
I screenshotted and shared this on Facebook & got this somewhat mind-blowing response pic.twitter.com/48tDETJV05
— Dr. & Mrs. Pepper (@gonzologic) July 9, 2020
October was indeed the tenth of twelve months (proportional to five-sixths), and 8:00 PM was rendered as 20:00 in military time (of a 24-hour day, five-sixths), and Thursday was the fifth day of a seven-day week.
As such, the similarity the original poster struggled to articulate may have been proportionate math.
Explanation Two: Synesthesia
In July 2020, the concept of “synesthesia” came up in an unrelated fact-check on a virally popular album:
Synesthesia was described by Scientific American in 2006 as “an anomalous blending of the senses in which the stimulation of one modality simultaneously produces sensation in a different modality,” causing experiencers to “hear colors, feel sounds and taste shapes”:
When you eat chicken, does it feel pointy or round? Is a week shaped like a tipped-over D with the days arranged counterclockwise? Does the note B taste like horseradish? Do you get confused about appointments because Tuesday and Thursday have the same color? Do you go to the wrong train station in New York City because Grand Central has the same color as the 42nd Street address of Penn Station? When you read a newspaper or listen to someone speaking do you see a rainbow of colors? If so, you might have synesthesia … What makes synesthesia different from drug-induced hallucinations is that synesthetic sensations are highly consistent: for particular synesthetes, the note F is always a reddish shade of rust, a 3 is always pink or truck is always blue.
A larger point of the passage was that some individuals attached colors or flavors to days of the week or musical notes, the blurring of senses known as synesthesia. In addition to being consistent for those experiencing it, the phenomenon was possibly (though not definitively) somewhat rare:
The estimated occurrence of synesthesia ranges from rarer than one in 20,000 to as prevalent as one in 200. Of the various manifestations of synesthesia, the most common involves seeing monochromatic letters, digits and words in unique colors, this is called grapheme-color synesthesia. One rather striking observation is that such synesthetes all seem to experience very different colors for the same graphemic cues. Different synesthetes may see 3 in yellow, pink or red. Such synesthetic colors are not elicited by meaning, because 2 may be orange but two is blue and 7 may be red but seven is green. Even more perplexing is that synesthetes typically report seeing both the color the character is printed in as well as their synesthetic color. For example, is both blue (real color) and light green (synesthetic color).
One Twitter commenter claimed that synesthesia without the use of hallucinogenic drugs is rare:
Honestly w this many people in the comments & rt’ing/liking this, I highly doubt everyone here has synesthesia as it’s very very rare. I believe it’s just the human brain creating patterns. I have synesthesia and its not quite how everyone is describing it. It’s way more complex
— 𝓢𝓱𝓮𝓲 (@shei_sava) July 3, 2020
However, it depends on what any person might describe as “rare”; a 2011 LiveScience article about synesthesia indicated between two and four percent of all people experience some form of it without the involvement of psychedelic substances:
Although synesthesia can occur due to drug use, brain damage, sensory deprivation and even hypnosis, research has revealed that 2 percent to 4 percent of the general population naturally experiences synesthesia, with the phenomenon tending to run in families. Recent work analyzing the brains of people with grapheme-color synesthesia has revealed it is caused by an increased number of connections between sensory regions of the brain.
For instance, synesthesia is purported to be seven times more common in artists, poets and novelists than in the rest of the population. Cognitive neuroscientist Vilayanur Ramachandran at the University of California, San Diego, and his colleagues suggest that mutant genes responsible for synesthesia might lead people to perceive links not only between seemingly unrelated sensations but also between seemingly unrelated ideas, leading to greater creativity.
A tweet observing that “Thursday, October, and 8 PM” are “all the same” garnered engagements topping half a million, with many commenters agreeing with the general proportions. Some attributed the observed or claimed similarities purely to math, with all three being five-sixths or sevenths in their respective contexts. Others described the correlation as a known blurring of senses known as synesthesia — once believed to be rare, but later estimated to naturally occur in up to four percent of people. The two may not be mutually exclusive.