What are false dichotomies good for?

At first blush, they can seem like a cheap, jokey way to think about the world.

But if we’re willing to take them seriously, I think they might be good for clarifying what the individual parts of the false dichotomy are good for. What their purpose is. Or what job they are the best tool for.

False dichotomies can help us think about context and how the individual parts of the false dichotomy operate within a system


Chris Ferdinandi, the “Vanilla JS Guy”, is in a great position to comment on this from firsthand experience . He did, and he gave me permission to share his response with you. The rest of this email is his response, italicization and indentation avoided for the sake of readability:

Hi Philip!

I think this varies wildly based on what your business does and your goals. While generally I’d be inclined to say “the relationship,” for my own business, I think “owning the idea” is far more powerful.

As an education product company, I make many small sales to individuals, so the value of any one relationship is relatively small. That said, I’ve resisted using middle-man platforms like Udemy specifically because I DO want to own that customer relationship and have direct 1-on-1 conversations with the people who buy my stuff.

However, a big part of my marketing focus is on becoming known broadly as “The Vanilla JS Guy.” 

I think the brand recognition that comes from being the “go-to person” on a specific topic is incredibly valuable for creating growth and opening new opportunities. My general feeling here is that it’s much harder to “own the idea” when you don’t own the relationship, though. Becoming “just another course on Udemy” makes it difficult to establish ownership of the idea independent of the platform.

Once you own the idea, the need to use someone else to establish the relationships evaporates. IMHO, of course!

Cheers, 
Chris