We are data-obsessed.
We need numbers. We crave analytics and metrics to tell us we're successful, that what we're doing is working and that we'll get the R.O.I. to make it all worthwhile.
We have elevated statistics to high art. (How else to explain the use of the word "fantasy" in reference to recreational pursuits devoted solely to decimal points and rankings?)
These days, the evaluation begins even before we're born. The ultrasound says the baby's head is in the 98th percentile!
And technology is developed seemingly by the day to help us quantify and compare. I'm the mayor of the 4th Street Starbucks because I've been there 4908450894 times!
We even have social media tools to measure sentiment. (Now, all we have to do is figure out how to make money off being popular.)
But where does all this calculating leave us on a personal level?
I have 364 Twitter followers and 377 Facebook friends (that's about 370 more friends than I had in high school, incidentally). But how do I gauge their sentiment? Do they merely like me? Or do they like me-like me?
Am I generating enough return on the 33 years God has invested in me?
I find myself struggling daily with the need to validate myself with numbers. I justify my existence by the amount of e-mails sent, tasks completed, lists cleared, chores finished, calls returned, problems solved, tweets tweeted, blogs posted (!), genius ideas generated, pithy remarks made, weights lifted, miles run, calories burned, pounds lost ... Just doing the addition is enough work to occupy a line on the to-do list.
For as long as I can remember, my worth has been tied to a number. It started with IQ, then moved on to GPA, SAT and ACT. (My life, evidently, also is judged in all-caps abbreviations.)
Then salary entered the equation, along with review ratings and raise percentages. Later, circulation figures became king, followed by clicks, page views and time-on-site trivia.
Somewhere the message became that one's value is determined by digits, by external factors that give people a convenient framework with which to judge others to deem them worthy of liking, helping, hiring, friending, following or even just knowing.
The scary truth is how comfortable it becomes to view yourself through that same lens. I have no sense of possessing any sort of God-given, intrinsic merit, but I'm delighted that I ran 12.3 miles Monday, reduced my inbox to 138 messages and sometimes can fit into a size 2.
I just hope that in the end I am greater than the sum of my parts.
Welcome to my brain! You're likely to find posts about sports, travel, food, wine, media, TV and music. Should be something for just about everyone!