There are over 152 million blogs on the internet. Every half a second, someone in the world starts a new one.
152 million is a staggering number, even when considering there are over 7 billion people on the planet right now.
And considering 7 billion of anything is something my brain can hardly do. It’s tough to wrap your mind around a number that massive. You know it’s a lot, but any number that big may as well be 3 trillion as as 7 million, as far as comprehending its scale goes…
It helps me to conceptually break it down: Imagine you’re in your car on the freeway at noon on a Saturday… how much traffic is there on the particular spot you happen to be?
Now imagine how crowded Costco is at that moment, how long the lines are at every theme park, in every popular restaurant, every DMV, every intersection, and tons of people are still at home.
No, the people you’re fighting to merge with represent an infinitesimally small percentage of the people on this planet right now, just the ones who happen to be taking the same exit as you.
Yet you’re still locked in traffic, and maybe don’t even live in a major city like Los Angeles or New York. Even these places are mere grains of sand on the Earth’s beach compared to a place like Beijing. One in five people in the world is Chinese.
We’re still talking about people who are alive right now, which is just a tiny percentage of all the people who have ever existed. They say if you scaled all of human history to fit one calendar year, recorded human history would only take up the last ten seconds. We spent the bulk of that year hunting and gathering.
And this is why, when you stop to think about it, we now live in an amazing age. Most people have a voice.
Most people couldn’t read or write throughout human history. Even after language developed, only the educated elite could record it.
Writings that have survived over centuries came from a tiny percentage of people. We have hieroglyphics from ancient Egyptian tombs; the writings of famous rulers, poets, and aristocrats in various countries…. whoever was lucky enough to learn to read and write and have their correspondences endure the trials of time.
We are left with writings from the most fortunate and talented across many ages, from Roman observers, with their interpretations on events in the ancient world, to greats like Shakespeare, whose wonderful stories we still study in classrooms.
And this is fantastic, but still represents only a few voices of the billions that lived on this planet. How true were the voices of these rarified few? These writings must be like television shows are today: crafted visions of cultural ideals, not a true sample of life as people knew it. Problems with simple solutions, houses that most people couldn’t afford, and character types that validate everyone’s social values.
Still, everyone else had their own perspective at the time. Everyone else, whose thoughts and beliefs are lost forever, had their own experiences and theories about the world they found themselves in. They had favorite colors, foods, preferences, fears, and funny stories.
What about an ancient Egyptian laborer building a pyramid? Did some of them believe their work was important, housing a god for the afterlife? Did others question the system they found themselves in? Were they ever angry to see riches piled in the corners of a dead man’s tomb as their own children struggled to get enough to eat?
Or a medieval serf. People have an infinite variety of temperaments and ideas. Some might’ve found the lack of overwhelming choices in their lives peaceful: their job was clear (farm the land) and their lives were completely laid out for them. Do a good job and be rewarded in heaven.
But some of them must have been outside-the-box thinkers, who wondered if this whole god-appoints-the-aristocracy system was a huge conspiracy to work the masses for the benefit of an elite few. Public executions might’ve kept them quiet, more or less, but maybe inside their heads, they couldn’t help noticing how convenient the ideology was for aristocrats.
There must’ve been agnostic medievals, pacifist soldiers, and reluctant brides. For all we know, the local blacksmith believed in alien conspiracies and the miller had a fantastic sense of humor.
None of them left any records, so we will never know.
These days, anyone with computer access can start a blog. When you think about it, we have never had such a free market for human voices in history.
Whenever you read a random person’s blog, you’re getting insight into what they’ve been thinking about lately. Maybe something funny just happened to them, or they are trying to make sense of certain evils in the world, or they saw something interesting on the way to work and just wanted to post a picture of it.
Many bloggers aren’t “good writers” in the conventional sense, not speaking in a register that’s considered skilled or currently fashionable, but it’s all authentic. It’s a split-second peek into their minds, their life experiences on this planet.
And I think it’s wonderful that we can all add our voices to the jumbled mess of the virtual universe. Anyone, anywhere, can say something, whether people think it’s “important” or not.
And connect. You write something, anything, and someone in Malaysia or Ireland or Idaho could be reading it seconds later. I’ve had conversations with people in Scotland, Singapore, India, and New York, people I would’ve otherwise never known.
Someday, centuries from now, forensic analysts may be digging through our computers like archaeologists seeking tidbits about an earlier age. There will be so much for them to find: our beliefs about politics, how to be healthy, how to raise children, what we ate for lunch, what we think cats are thinking when they look at a box…
The number of blogs may be overwhelming, the competing voices intimidating, but they are all valuable. They all count. It’s a limitless pool of free thought, creativity, and human connection.
And I think it’s great.