A food blogger's thoughts on what Pi Day has come to mean on social media.
I’m a retired mathematician. What does that mean? It means that I only do math for fun now and do not practice it as a career. Now, I’m a full-time food blogger. And I’m taking a moment to think again about the meaning of Pi Day.
Pi Day was always a day to celebrate the beauty of math. The magic, the logic, the way math enables us to do so many amazing things. And of course, the incredible discovery of pi itself. The influence of pi is mind blowing: without it, so many concepts and discoveries that impact us today wouldn’t exist.
Somewhere along the way, maybe just because of the homophone ‘pie’ and ‘pi’, a trend started to share pictures of pie on Pi Day. As a food blogger, I have never posted a picture of a pie on Pi Day. And it wasn’t until this year that I realized why. I feel like Pi Day has been taken over by the food blog community.
Before, I didn’t think that this was a bad thing. I used to appreciate that there was a whole other community that used their skills to create something in celebration of the other world I loved - math.
But I realize now that more often than not, my fellow foodies use this day to gain visibility for their brands, not to share in the wonders of the incredible discovery of pi and all the ways it has influenced our current ways of living.
And that bothers me. It bothers me that my community feels so much pressure to crank out relevant content. It bothers me that the meaning of Pi Day is lost among beautiful photos of pies. It’s a shame that the purpose and meaning of Pi Day has been diminished.
I’m not writing this to shame anyone, or to discourage anyone from posting a picture of pie. I’m writing it to ask you to make this day about more than getting your pie post seen on social media. I ask that every food blogger thinks about the meaning of Pi Day and respects it.
This day is meant to be fun, and sharing pies is a wonderful part of that. Sharing knowledge about math, and pi itself, should be a wonderful part of it too.
Here are some things you can share to go along with your pie photo:
- Share a fun math fact, or puzzle.
- Share a math problem for people to solve.
- Recommend a book about math for people to read. Here is a classic.
- Set some time aside to do some math or math puzzles.
- Share a success or struggle you had with math.
- Tell a cheesy math joke.
- Do some math or math history research until you learn something new, then share (and source) that learning.
- Write a message to spread the pi and math love today.
I would love for everyone to enjoy both - pie and pi - in equal measure. Let's celebrate pi with pie, instead of just celebrating pie. As I do every year, I’ve taken the day off to do math all day. I can't wait to see all the cool things you share!
Candice earned her B.A. in Mathematics and M.S. in Mathematics Education from the University of California, Berkeley. She went on to get an M.S. in Mechanical Engineering from the University of California, Los Angeles. Read more about Candice here.