The passage of time remains a mystery to us all, particularly to those of us who do not own a watch or phone or sundial. Does time flow forward, or circulate, or are we in some bizarre backwards vacuum?

Sometimes when I watch the news, I think: “Yes, backwards-facing black hole of time it is.”

TikTokker and former triple j Breakfast presenter Erica Mallett has screwed with pretty much everyone’s sense of time and space with one simple question.

@erica_mallett Not trying to alarm anyone but this question will make you see people differently #question #answers #time ♬ original sound – erica_mallett

“If I say we have a meeting at midday, and then I say can we move it forward two hours,” she asks in her now-viral TikTok, “What time is that?”

The answer seems obvious. The meeting’s now at 10AM, right?

That’s what my brain instantly went to, and I said “yes brain, that’s exactly right.” Didn’t even have to look at my sundial or nothin’.

It was a shock to my system when I realised that people in the comments were extremely, deeply, practically philosophically divided.

One commenter said, “Move something forward = move it forward in the scheme of the day = 2PM.”

“Oh God, there are people who think this is 2PM,” said another.

One poor soul even commented “I’m trying to figure out how I got to 4PM.” Remind me not to book anything time-sensitive in with this person, like an international flight or a diamond heist.

Forget I mentioned that last one.

Mallett explained the division in a follow up video, which has also clocked a milli views on TikTok (the original video is now sitting at an unbelievable 24.6 million views).

@erica_mallett #stitch with @erica_mallett ok this either makes it more or less confusing I’m not sure #time #question ♬ original sound – erica_mallett

“It depends on how you view time,” she explained. “If you see yourself as moving through time, then you’re moving towards 2PM. You will say 2PM.”

“If you see time as moving through you, you’ll say 10AM.”

It’s science! Now I have to ask every single person I know this question and secretly judge them based on their answer. Good day to you.

Image: Erica Mallett on TikTok