Saturday, February 11, 2017

A Lot of People

Feel free to zoom in on this picture--there are 10,000 little tiny people icons.

That's a lot of people; in a world of 7.4 billion, it is only .000143% of all the people in the world.

There has been a lot of talk recently about crowds, people, and percentages. What is 1 person? What is 10,000? What is 10 million?

To some extent viewing even 10,000 people together is an overwhelming proposition--I struggle to understand the meaning of a mass of humans that size. Further, it becomes almost nonsensical to attempt to understand that the Women's March drew over 3 million people out into the streets to protest a mere few weekends ago.

One way that I have attempted to think about these numbers is think about a fraction of the group. One percent of 10,000 is still 100 people.

My wedding had 125 people attend--I count myself lucky to have so many that I love in my life. Even then, I had to make hard choices about who would be invited. When I think about my same wedding, that packed reception hall, and imagine it occupied by only 25 people, I get a sense of 1% of 10,000. 100 people missing from that celebration, and I know and love each one.

When we talk about the number of people affected at any given moment by any given policy we sometimes lose sight of the humanity in each individual.

Often, we encapsulate a population in the story or picture of a single individual, we create a narrative and stamp it across the spectrum, assuming the details are more or less the same.

But the details are not the same.

So, it seems strange that this week's visualization is a stamp of a single human icon shown thousands of times. When you explore the visualization, I ask that you think about just a few of the individuals in your life, their unique stories, and apply those to the generic human outlines.