Catch-22 and the 3 Digital Paradoxes

What is Catch-22? discover it in this in-depth analysis and find out why it is so current and what similarities there are with the digital world.


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What is Catch-22 (or Paradox del Comma 22)?

It is nothing more than one (of the many) existing paradoxes that theorize, through the use of rhetoric, mathematics or other, a logical stalemate in two or more statements in contrast. Of course, on wikipedia there is everything to investigate both the catch-22 and the paradoxes in general.

The extreme synthesis and therefore the statement of the paradox is that:

Those who are crazy can ask to be exempted from flight missions, but those who ask to be exempted from flight missions are not crazy.

In the book by Joseph Heller (“Tranello 22”) of 1961 the paradox is used to describe the alienation of war and the absence of choice in military contexts using the two contradictory points of the pilots’ regulation: Paragraph 21 and Paragraph 22 Never really existed and builds the basis of history, often paradoxical in turn, of the same novel.

A film was also taken from the book in 1970, directed by a young Mike Nichols, the same as “Who is afraid of Virginia Woolf?” And “The graduate” but failed to achieve the desired success perhaps because he was ugly or perhaps because of disappointing comparison with MASH, released in the same year always dealing with antimilitarist issues

Catch 22 — Episode 1 – Young American flyers arrive in war and discover that the bureaucracy is more deadly than the enemy. Scheisskopf (George Clooney), shown. (Photo by: Philippe Antonello/Hulu)

Why is it back in fashion if war and anti-militarism is not a main-stream phenomenon?

Catch-22 is current for the “paradoxism” of our historical period, filled with political, social or cultural paradoxes.

The book has attracted interest for the masses for the subject dealt (the war) and of course for the ideal (the anti-militarism) that is current in the historical period.

Today, in a similar but certainly evolved way, both the argument and George Clooney, collect a similar level of mass empathy and therefore naturally successful.

Before books and newspapers were the main tools for sharing and generating discussions, today they are TV Series, Social-Likes and Social-shares and in general the hype that can be generated around a product.

Youtube: Sky Atlantic — Trailer Catch 22

So regardless of the media, or the period, all the reinterpretations are united by the fact they do not speak “simply” of war or military regulations, but try to take us further, on the paradox.

The human frustration of not understanding, of the interlocking in the rigid bureaucracy of logic, in the practical impossibility of proceeding.

Even the “influencers” of today do not remain to watch, for example The Jackall, which we know are able to often stay “on the piece”, and probably because actively collaborating with Sky Italia, have interpreted in their own way in a mini-story the paradox of the young candidate who does not find a job because he has no experience and has no experience because he cannot find work among other things. Crossing it (and from here we understand that they are on the piece) with another niche topic, black holes, which became main-stream in recent months thanks to M87.

The paradox at the time of the digital age

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No one when designing a product or digital service really knows if it will become the new Facebook or Twitter, those technicians who claim to know it are like those fortune tellers who say they know the numbers that will be extracted. Even the most experienced cannot have the ability to create a solution that will certainly be the one that will succeed.

For example:

  • Microsoft has in the past produced an operating system that was not as perfected as Apple’s, but later sold more.
  • Apple produced a phone that cost twice as much as others but later sold more.
  • Intel produced its tablet (Web Table) about 9 years before Apple, but Apple later sold more.

Extending, for fun, the concept of paradox to a less orthodox definition we could quickly realize that today the social and digital transformation has given rise to enormously widespread but logically unthinkable situations a few years ago, the list could be infinite but for now let us limit ourselves to the 3 most obvious paradoxes.

The paradox of the empty bottle

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Imagine a world where coca-cola sells billions of bottles but does not have a single milliliter of coca-cola? and what sells then?

The bottle? Exact. This is our world.

A world where the container (Facebook, Instagram, Youtube, Twitter or the same does not have a single content but are the world leaders in content production and distribution.

In addition to the content industry, even services or other products have a similar behavior and therefore logically anomalous, just to give some examples:

  • UBER is involved in the transport of people, one of the most used transport companies in the world but does not have any means of transport.
  • AIRBNB takes care of reception, it doesn’t even have a room but is used to rent millions a day.
  • JUSTEAT does catering worldwide but does not even have a restaurant (nor bicycles)
  • etc (there are many)

Some call this Digital Transformation, some say that Digital Transformation is something else. I say this is simply a Digital Paradox

The paradox of the flat earth

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In the aftermath of unification, in 1861, Italy had an average of 78% of illiterates. 100 years later, in 1960, RAI broadcasts It is never too late, 50 years later, in 2019, almost everyone knows how to read and write and almost all of us can access information online.

Ignorance is dead, long life to ignorance.

Because everyone is able to search for information on Internet and can virtually learn anything, but someone will look (and find) on Internet confirming something they think they already know (but it’s wrong) thus generating, for the first time in the history of the human being, the paradox of the ignorant people who have been informed, who have studied and who have studied in depth and therefore the people of educated people who ignore reality.

Avoiding the politicization of the post list only some of the less “questionable” examples but there would certainly be others:

  • The earth is flat. Even they didn’t think so even in the Middle Ages because in those days they had already understood it
  • My cousin who works at the Ministry of Health told me .. here are N thousand versions: 5G, before it was wifi, before it was the microwave, etc.
  • It’s a plot! September 11, no Jews died, or Kubrik filmed the moon landing, etc.
  • I know whose fault it is! so political (and often racial) polarizations don’t even give me examples.

The paradox of the aboriginal (or unresolved solution)

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The last paradox.

Over the years we have studied and learned methodologies that have given us practical indications to tackle problems. Schemes that roughly resemble each other: Define the problem, find N options, implement the best solution.
But something has changed, something has broken, the problem is not defined, the options are endless, the solutions sprout like mushrooms but we have no recipe to use them. As for the egg and the hen, now the natural problem-solving sequence has become a paradox where the human does not understand which of the two is a consequence of the other.

In this context the paradox of the aboriginal is born, explicitly explained by Corrado Guzzanti, a company, having at its disposal an innovative technology able to do “fantastic things”, one asks later (and not before), but these are what I need ? The author gives us a practical example:

Having the chance to talk to an Aborigine, but you and me, Aborigine, what the fuck if we have to!?!

Other examples of solutions able to solve many problems still not conceived could be:

  • The use of Blockchain in areas other than cryptomoneta
  • The intelligent use of Artificial Intelligence
  • The IoT, the information they can give us and the commands we can give to them at any time
  • The Mash-up of all these technologies (and others) in an infinite tree of possibilities


So the next time you find out that there is something wrong, that it doesn’t make sense, but it does exist;

take a deep breath, look the other person in the eye and you can always tell him: This is definitely a digital paradox

You will soon discover how therapeutic it is to use this trick to solve the need of us humans to give a name and an explanation for something that does not make logical sense (or at least we do not understand it) and quoting a contemporary philosopher:

Finding a meaning to this story, even if this story doesn’t make sense