Every Voice Matters


There’s just something about knowing how much you’re valued. Everyone knows what I’m talking about, yet no one seems to be talking about the fulfillment that comes from knowing that even just one person hears what you say and is grateful that you said it. This, I would argue, is what makes life meaningful.

On a dreary day in 2008, Neil Pasricha created a website called 1000awesomethings.com. He did not do it to change the world; he did not do it to be rich or famous or loved. He decided to become one of the millions of people that have a blog, because the past few months had been bleak. With tears in her eyes, Pasricha’s wife told him that she did not love him anymore. They began the slow process of divorce. Then, one Monday morning, Pasricha received news that his best friend had committed suicide (1). Pasricha began his website to remind himself of 1000 small things in life that create

happiness.

Pasricha’s blog celebrates everything from the Earth (#38) to “Flicking those coil doorstoppers for no reason” (#98) to seeing new previews when you go to the movies (#161). Number 58 “When the band comes out for an encore” is one of my favorites. All of Pasricha’s posts end with “AWESOME!” (1).

Pasricha started his blog to help himself, but now it has become an international phenomenon. The website won the 14th annual Webby Awards, and Pasricha has published three books with more on the way (1). Millions of people have been influenced by the words and actions of Neil Pasricha. The website takes its readers out of the stress of the incomplete task and helps them celebrate the little things in life that create joy.

Even without the popularity of his blog, Pasricha’s thoughts carry insight. His posts are unique and something that everyone should be reminded of. But even if Pasricha’s blog was only ever read by his mother and a few other followers, it would still have meaning. Pasricha’s words would still affect the people who read them, no matter if he had ten or ten thousand readers.

With the vast amount of resources that the average person has access to today, “getting your voice out there” has become easy. Over 50,000 blogs are started every day; independent publishing provides writers with access to printing for their books; websites such as Facebook and Twitter and programs such as Skype allow groups of people all across the world to communicate and share ideas. Even though millions of people now use their resources to share their ideas, many more people read and absorb those ideas.

This ease of sharing creates a trap, because it does not force writers and speakers to refine their words before sharing them. The increased competition also pushes some writers to publish what they think people would want to read or hear instead of publishing work they truly care about. I would like to argue against the need for popularity. I’m not intent on forming a hipster revolution: there’s nothing wrong with being popular. But I think that society has wrapped us up in this idea that popularity equals great, insightful work, and this is just not true. Some popular work falls short, while unknown gems brush the edges of greatness.

Becoming popular or successful provides a creative mind with a constant stream of praise and affirmation. It brings the wonderful feeling of knowing you are valued, because you are reminded of it every day. As people, this is a wonderful and amazing thing. But truly great work has intrinsic value. Instead of striving towards popularity, I think people should strive for inspiring work. Because for as many people as there are that share ideas, there are even more people reading and absorbing those ideas. Great work that is published will inspire another, will spark curiosity, will provide a release. Even if just one person is influenced by the idea and at least one person will be, then the writer is valued. The author may never know, the author may even be dead but people affect other people; sharing ideas matters.

(1) 1000awesomethings.com

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