The numbers game.

Increasingly, life throws digits at us to evaluate our worth. Your watch can tell you how many steps you took today. Facebook tells you how many friends you have. Your ATM tells you how much money you have. What’s your credit score?

And social media has put us all on some endless celebrity list with Kim Kardashian and Justin Bieber at the top and each of us somewhere far, far below. How many likes did your Instagram get? How many comments did your post get? How many views did you get on YouTube? How many followers do you have on Twitter?

It’s as if we are all on the ballot, stalked by monkey pollsters projecting our fates, tabulating our votes, handing out our final grades.

Because we are all online, we are all in a line.

This is what technology and the media have wrought. Because things can be quantified, they can be ranked. Because we are all online, we are all in a line. And those digits seem to indicate our place, our worth.

And of course, it’s all bullshit. Just because the world holds up so many measuring sticks, doesn’t mean we have to step up to them. We still have the power to decide what matters. People are not numbers. Art is not worth what Sotheby’s or Google or Billboard deems its rank.

What matters when you make something, even when you share it, is what it means to you. How deeply does it touch you? Does it feel authentic? Does it speak to you? Did you work hard enough on it to make it clear and resonant? If you must have  a numerical scale, count how it makes your pulse accelerate, how broad your smile is, how many tears rise to your eyes. Those are the only digits that count.

16 thoughts on “The numbers game.”

  1. Thanks. I promise I will try not to care about how many people look at my art on flickr. Translation of “I promise I will try”: Nah, I’ll still look.

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  2. Checking how we are doing with numbers is just trying to fit in and is completely human nature. We breathe free due to the group we are in providing strength. BUT, social media and the numbers has drawn that one of many human characteristics needed for survival to the top of the list. It appears to have taken over when people text each other while still in the same house. As humans we are better served by our characteristics when everyone used most of them equally. Thanks for that reminder. Tear drops and smiles are indicators of value much more than numbers. What an amazing abstract art piece that could become. Thanks for the inspiration, again!

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  3. Thank you! So, so true!!! It’s easy some days to get caught up in the frenzy online, and this is a great reminder to focus on what’s most important.

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  4. Sharing my sketches has been one of the trickier parts for me. Whether online or in person, opening up gives the potential for people to “like you” or not. I started to realize the potential there is for connection by sharing what is in a sketchbook, no matter the subject or style.

    When I would open my sketchbook when in conversation with one individual at a gathering, it always seems to slowly draw a crowd. I truly believe this is not because of the quality of my sketches, but that it gives people an opportunity to connect on a real level. A conversation starter, if you will. At first, I was really uncomfortable having people gawk over my shoulder, but it has inspired friends to start sketching too! This is so very awesome and rewarding. Slowly I am starting to share more, and I find now it give me energy and inspiration.

    Thank you, Danny for the post, and a nice way to start my morning.

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  5. It seems that Sketchbook Skool is a moveable feast indeed. Klasses and informative sessions are happening everywhere. This post has been for me a must attend activity. Thank you Danny.

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  6. On a page in my sketchbook in 2012 I scrawled “why are we boxed in to the pages of a calendar and the ticking of the clock? Who started this nonsense? And don’t say it was Adam and Eve. They were only responsible for the apple bit.”
    Now it is much more than just the calendar and clock. That all seems so simple now. I love your new sytem for counting what really matters. Merci and cheers-Darlene

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  7. I’m reminded of my mom trying to instill in me the importance of being myself and not just blindly following the crowd or to look outside myself in order to feel accepted. It wouldn’t always be an easy road, my mom would tell me, but in the long run, in lots of ways, I’d be stronger and wiser for it. To an almost teenager, those words were terrifying and didn’t make much sense. It wasn’t until I had my own kids, that I realized how wise her words really were, and shared them with my girls. Thank you for the reminder, Danny.

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