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.