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Source: still from the video

The Artist's Lament in a World of 7 Billion

In a world of 7 billion people, isn't it enough to just impact one of them?

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Tanya Davis is a spoken word artist from Prince Edward Island, who currently lives in Nova Scotia. In Davis’ song, “Art,” she touches on the incredible challenges that artists face to believe in their work enough to keep doing it. When you create and publish something that is your own, whether it is a painting, a poem, an essay, a website, a song, etc., it becomes a piece of yourself that you share with the world and it is thus painfully personal. Not only is there the possibility of negative reviews, there is also the more frightening possibility of getting no reviews at all. What’s more, if you choose to post your content on the internet, there can sometimes be little way of knowing how it is received either way.

When I was in high school we were lucky enough to be visited by Yann Martel, author of “The Life of Pi“. Responding to a student’s question, Martel described the disappointment he felt when some of his earlier works were rejected by publishing houses. He explained that because of the intimate nature of creative work, the rejections sometimes felt like personal insults although they were not always intended as such.

Many societies today, especially in the West, value and promote individualism. From a young age we are taught that we are unique; we are expected to have a favourite colour, song, movie, actor, shirt, etc. We are told we can do anything, that nothing is impossible. Yet as the production and, more importantly, the publication of creative content grows alongside new technologies, the prospects of publicity or social impact are diminished. In the cacophony of voices from blogs, magazines and websites, the uniqueness of the individual voice is muffled beyond distinction, and this can sometimes lead to frustrating feelings of futility. As Davis says, “I think of the significance of my opinions here. Is it significant to be giving them? Does anybody care?”

Source: a still from the video

Source: a still from the video

The reality is that when publishing creative work, you have about as much chance of making an impact as you do of becoming the next pop band on the Top 40. But let’s say someone does come across your creation through one of the various stratified links, likes, shares, retweets on social networks, or perhaps even a youtube sidebar. Your creation might touch one individual. It might be downloaded to a personal computer or kept on a handheld device and listened to on the subway. You might add new flavour to just one person’s day.

In a world of 7 billion people, isn’t this enough?