Historical Figures Who Would Have Killed It on Social Media

Many people use social media as a way to make ‘history’ today. Take for instance the Obama “Four More Years” tweet that had over 780,000 retweets, or Commander Chris Hadfield’s photography from space that earned him 700,000 more followers in two months. But envision, if you can, history coming to life on social media. Can you imagine what someone like Socrates could do on Twitter, or Thomas Jefferson on LinkedIn? Here are a few examples of historical figures that we all learned about in History class, that would have absolutely killed it on social media:

Socrates ~ Philosopher King of the Twitter Q&A

NYC - Metropolitan Museum of Art - Death of Socrates by Wally Gobetz via Flickr
NYC – Metropolitan Museum of Art – Death of Socrates by Wally Gobetz via Flickr

Socrates was an ancient Greek philosopher who taught Plato (who then taught Aristotle… who in turn taught Alexander the Great). Socrates himself never wrote down any of his beliefs; Plato is actually treated as the most reliable source on all things Socrates. Plato’s writings depict Socrates as wandering the ancient marketplace in Athens asking people questions until he proves they are ignorant on the subject.

Socrates would ask people questions such as “What is justice?” “What is courage?” and “What is love?” He’d follow up their answers with more questions, pointing out their contradictions and scrutinizing their beliefs. This philosophical dialogue is also known as the Socratic method.

Doesn’t this sound like a person who would have loved Twitter? In my opinion, Socrates would have been a Twitter rockstar! Dishing out short quick questions like “What is art?” would definitely fit within the 140 character limit. Although Plato would probably have run his account as his social media manager, Socrates would have loved to engage with his audience once the question was asked. In weekly Twitter chats, Socrates would share his views on the greater good out to the world and challenge the world to reconsider their biases, preconceptions and beliefs.

In 399 BC, Socrates annoyed one too many people with his questions and was executed by being made to drink hemlock. Lucky for us this doesn’t happen now-a-days, or some Tweeters would be in trouble for sure.

MC Escher ~ The Vine Hypnotist

MC Escher was one of the world’s most famous graphic artists, known for his often mathematically inspired woodcuts, lithographs, and mezzotints. These works feature impossible constructions, explorations of infinity, architecture, and tessellations. Aside from being a graphic artist, he illustrated books, designed tapestries, postage stamps and murals.

I’m sure if MC Escher were alive today, he would spend all of his time watching and creating the hypnotizing 6-second loops of Vine videos. With his affinity for mathematics, his Vine videos would be full of stop-motion editing. Just imagine being able to watch never-ending loops of those ‘impossible structures’ or tessellations…

Joan of Arc ~ The Facebook Revolutionary

If Joan of Arc had a Facebook account, it would look a bit like this. Image courtesy of CollegeHumor Facebook-History.
If Joan of Arc had a Facebook account, it would look a bit like this. Image courtesy of CollegeHumor Facebook-History.

Joan of Arc was a teenage peasant girl who won over the French people, later leading the French Army to several key victories during the Hundred Years War. At the age of 12, she started hearing voices from God sending her on a mission to help the French defeat the English. After convincing the King that she was genuine, Joan was presented a horse, armor, sword and banner. She was captured, handed over to the English and burned at the stake  being accused of heresy  at the age of 19.

Joan of Arc would have seen Facebook as the perfect opportunity to stage her revolution. Her Facebook page would be plastered with heroic photos of Joan leading the army into the siege of Orléans, and she would use Facebook Events to summon troops for her attacks. Joan would also be able to highlight her martial milestones, and engage with her soldiers and fans throughout France to keep moral high.

Andy Warhol ~ Instagram’s Pop Art Prince

Andy Warhol self-portrait (1986). Image by jpellgen via flickr
Andy Warhol self-portrait (1986). Image by jpellgen via flickr

Andy Warhol is one of the most influential artists of the 20th century and the key figure in the American Pop Art movement of the 1960’s. He had a career as a commercial illustrator, and then became famous for his radical Pop Art paintings and screen-paintings.

If alive today, Warhol would use Instagram to post photos of his bohemian friends, well known intellectuals, and celebrities straight from Hollywood. He would be able to use Instagram’s different filters and features to transform celebrity portraits into pop art. His account would be full of bright colors, celebrity photos, and cans of Campbell’s soup. Oh, we couldn’t forget one of Warhol’s favorite things: #selfies, #selfies everywhere.

In 1968, Warhol said that “In the future, everyone will be world-famous for 15 minutes.” Warhol’s prediction has proven to be shockingly accurate, thanks to Instragram and other social networks.

Dante ~ The Epic Poet of Google+ Circles

Dante, also known as the “Father of the Italian Language,” was a major Italian poet during the late Middle Ages. His Divine Comedy is considered one of the greatest works written in Italian and a masterpiece of world literature. The Divine Comedy was broken into three parts: Inferno (his most well known piece), Purgatorio, and Paradiso. The Inferno starts Dante’s journey through the nine circles of Hell. As he passes through, he observes the people who reside in each circle: gluttons in the third, heretics in the sixth, and so on.

Dante would have loved Google+ because obviously, he loves putting people into circles. For your sake, I hope you aren’t in any of them.

Here is a section of Dante’s Inferno being translated into rap:

Shakespeare ~ Much Ado About Youtube

William Shakespeare was an English poet and playwright who is widely considered one of the greatest writers in the English language. Over his lifetime, he wrote 38 plays, 154 sonnets and two epic poems. While he wasn’t writing, he became an actor and part-owner of a theater group at The Globe Theater. Shakespeare inspired people around the world to pursue literature, to develop philosophies and challenge traditional goals.

Imagine Shakespeare and his troupe of actors producing a new video on a YouTube channel every week. Each video could be the next scene of, say, A Midsummer Night’s Dream. Wouldn’t you want to watch the story unfold over time?

William Shakespeare would have utilized YouTube to the fullest. He made his entire life about writing and acting: a constant source of content for his YouTube channel. Because he would be producing content frequently and consistently, his subscription count would soar, and his content would become more shareable. Through a YouTube channel he would be able to engage with his fans; here he could use the 40 words and phrases that he coined which we still use in everyday language. If Shakespeare were alive today, he’d be wooing viewers just like Romeo wooed Juliet. Youtube is a global stage for the world’s writers and producers, and I have no doubt that Shakespeare would approve.

“All the world’s a stage,and all the men and women merely players: they have their exits and their entrances; and one man in his time plays many parts…”

As You Like It, Act II, Scene 7, 139–42 

Thomas Jefferson ~ The Letter Writing President of LinkedIn

Thomas Jefferson
Thomas Jefferson. Copy of painting by Rembrandt Peale, circa 1805. Image by Marion Doss via Flickr

Thomas Jefferson was the third President of the United States and the drafter of the Declaration of Independence. He had relations with people all over the globe, including intellectual leaders in Britain and France to whom he would often write letters. Jefferson co-founded and led the Democratic-Republican Party, which dominated American politics for over 25 years. Other than serving as President, he also was the wartime Governor of Virginia, first United States Secretary of State and second Vice President.

With all of these titles, Thomas Jefferson would have a completely stacked LinkedIn profile! You could also add (among other things) horticulturist, statesman, architect, archaeologist, paleontologist, author and inventor onto his list of skills. His profile wouldn’t look too shabby with endorsements from George Washington and John Adams. Because he had strong ties with many people worldwide, I’m sure if Jefferson lived today, we would be seeing “500+” connections for sure. Since he was such a boss in the political game, he would surely be one LinkedIn’s thought leaders.

Do you agree that these historical figures would have rocked on social media? Do you have you’re own favorite figures that would have owned the social media world? Let us know in the comments below.

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