In a year when we elect a US President, everyone is focused on the economy. The thinking is that if we can fix the economy, our nation will be better again. That if we all have money in our bank accounts, our problems will be solved. That if the numbers are working in our favor, then we’re good to go. It’s easy to think that numbers drive our economy, but they don’t.

I’ve known a couple of really wealthy people. Top 1% guys. Yes, they had big homes and fancy toys, but the one thing I took away from knowing them was that their problems scaled. Wealth did not make them happier. But those people are a terrible example. They are anomalies born into their situations. Everyone else I’ve ever known who had money falling out of their pockets worked hard for it. And the funny thing about these people was that most of them were miserable. They traded their lives for the pursuit of money. For numbers. Now I’m not going to sit here and try to prove that the idea of money scientifically creates an illusion of happiness, but I will say this – money alone does not solve problems. At best, money is just numbers. And numbers don’t fix economies. Numbers, in the context of economics, are the reactive result of either good ideas, or bad ones.

The same concept is true for blogging. Numbers don’t mean quality content. Last week I saw a popular blogger tweet one of his posts titled, “Fifty-Seven Ways to Better Blogging,” or something like that. The key point was that he used the number fifty-seven. Not five. Not ten. Fifty-seven. His research had obviously proved that if you use numbers in your headlines, people will come. And clearly, the bigger the better. If you clicked on his link (and let’s face it – who wouldn’t want fifty-seven ways to do something better?) he counted your number along with all the other suckers, I mean visitors, and sold those numbers to advertisers who paid more numbers (money) to place a little rectangle on the right marginalia of his blog in hopes that the blogger’s genius headline would translate to even more numbers (clicks to their site) which would hopefully drive yet more numbers (sales). Whew. That’s a lot of numbers. And somehow, not one good idea.

I get it – everyone wants followers and subscribers and comments and Likes and shares because we have this twisted perception that numbers mean power. But they don’t. Numbers are just numbers. Passive little things that just sit there. Ideas are active. Ideas mean power. Democracy. Love. Anarchy. Revolution. Want power? Crack open an idea. If it’s good enough, the numbers will follow. Want to fix America? Nourish a culture of innovation where ideas are harvested like healthy crops. Want to be a better blogger? Focus on big ideas. Not word formulas that beget more numbers.

The internet advanced information. Social media advanced connectivity. Connectivity advances collaboration. Collaboration advances ideation. Ideas advance everything.



Jim Mitchem


Why Men Cheat

Jim Mitchem

Writer. Father to daughters. Husband. Ad man. Raised by wolves. @jmitchem on twitter. First novel, Minor King, out now.