I have a fear that I’ve not changed the world. This is ridiculous, because I know that I haven’t changed the world. When I am gone, no one is going to build my statue, commission my portrait or designate my birthday as a national holiday; and after my memory has gone, the world will continue without knowledge of my existence, just as I don’t know about the millions who came before me. It will happen to me. It will happen to you. It has happened to the majority of humanity, and that’s OK. But I still think I should have changed the world by now.
This isn’t the blog post that I planned to write. It was going to be about how the world is changing around us and creative people are a reflection of that.
We are standing on online soapboxes, building factories in bedrooms and reimagining how business works in every sector. But is this changing the world?
Surely this is a just reactionary action to help us fit in better in a digital age? For example, the UK spent £52 billion online in 2015, surely it’s just sound business sense to set up a shop online when starting out? The overheads are smaller, the market worldwide and people are definitely spending!
I don’t think we can change the world. I know that’s a statement that’s going to aggravate and annoy those who stand in protests, build houses for the homeless, fight for equality and generally do awesome things every day; but stick with me. I don’t think that we can change the whole world. It is not an achievable target. It’s not SMART. And if there’s one thing that I have learnt in life, it’s that everyone loves a SMART target.
What can we change? We can change what we use this new world for.
Did you know that in 2014 there were approximately 2 million videos of cats on YouTube that had over 25 billion views? What if we used that power for good instead of evil; and shared videos of legitimate world changers or things that open up discussion points – like TED talks? Sure, we can talk about whether Count Fluffykin’s white marks on his feet look like socks on mittens or not; but I’d much rather we spoke about the concept of public shaming and why we still think it’s OK to judge Monica Lewinsky on a mistake that she made before I was even born.
We can share the stuff that the media leaves out – civil wars, mass murders, and other miscellaneous evil. We have the font of all human knowledge at our finger tips, we can confirm statistics, research our arguments and look up how many cat videos there are on YouTube. We have all the power at the touch of a few buttons, because we are almost constantly connected to the internet. Thanks to this magical power, we can even teach those how to do this themselves.
We can use this knowledge and power to choose where to spend our share of the £52billion. Dove, with all its body positive marketing is still owned by Unilever, who also own Lynx and a whole smorgasbord of products that rely of the commodification of the body. Coca Cola, you know the evil giant entity that steals water to run factories, they own 90% of the shares of Innocent. The internet is full of little shops. Little guys and gals, just trying to make an honest living. They are the bedroom factory people from the start, and maybe we should be supporting them more?
Finally, we can just talk about stuff. We can talk about emotions, about health, about mental health, about how we feel like society has us down, about how we’re doing OK or how we’re not doing OK. Chances are someone else is feeling the exact same way. Social media is not just for humble bragging, if we all just present our best selves that ‘just had a fantastic dinner #cheekynandos’ then rather than connecting with one another, we are competing in a gladiator humble brag arena. You don’t have to share every emotion, but at the same time you don’t have to be an image of humble perfection.
We are all human and we are all flawed.
The guys with the statues, they are all flawed, but we choose to hold them up as world changing heroes. Most of them had bigger flaws than the rest of us, but they are held up because we are taught to remember how their epoch defining antics fitted in with the powers at the time. The people who could afford to build a statue. So what if I’m not going to get a statue, and I’m not going to change the world? We are all making choices every day that influence how we use the world, and that in turn is what is going to create long lasting change. I think. I’m still not sure.
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