YouTube: https://youtube.com/watch?v=mcIQdN6psCc
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Duration:03:33
Uploaded:2017-07-07
Last sync:2018-11-28 12:10
In this video, I think I intentionally avoided talking about the numbers that have become more and more common in our lives...our followers, our likes, our subscribers, our views. Those are such seductive surrogates for meaning. I know I say this as someone who has a lot of all of those things, but the numbers by themselves are nothing. If this community wasn't a bunch of thoughtful, supportive, kind people, I would leave the internet tomorrow and never come back. John and I stopped wanting to grow vlogbrothers a long time ago, we love this place for what it is, and I'm sorry if and when the other things I do end up spilling over too much on this channel, which I really do want to always be just about two brothers making stuff together.

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Good morning, John.  Couple of hours after I went to bed two nights ago, my house started to shake a bunch.  Turns out it was because the earth under my house was shaking a bunch.  To be clear, this was not a serious earthquake, I think the biggest casualty was this pasta sauce.  But, to be additionally clear, it did not prevent Katherine and I from totally freaking out and running into the baby's room as fast as possible to stand there and watch him sleep as if nothing had happened at all and not do anything because it was over by the time we got there.

It was a 5.8 on the Richter Scale.  And if you've been in a 5.8 before you know that it's sorta like standing on a train that's moving, which is not nothing, like it's not what you expect the earth to do.  And the Richter Scale tells you pretty much what you wanna know, which is how much the earth is moving.  Maybe it doesn't actually tell us what we wanna know.  In 2010, if you remember, there was a magnitude 7 earthquake in Haiti.  This is a much, much bigger earthquake, much more destructive, hundreds of thousands of people died.  That year, there were 20 other earthquakes that were stronger than that earthquake in Haiti.  And the combined death toll of all 20 of those more powerful earthquakes was less than 1000 people.  The earthquake in Haiti was so destructive for two reasons, 1. It was centered near several different large population centers, and second, because Haiti is such a poor country, the buildings weren't well constructed, and many of them collapsed.

So that number, 7.0, it tells you something, real information, but it doesn't tell you everything.  And this is related to a thing that I've been thinking about lately, because it's that time of year when people are getting their Advanced Placement test scores back , and I get lots of tweets from people telling me that Crash Course helped them do well on one or the other of those tests.  Which is great, thank you, I give you most of the credit, but I'm glad Crash Course helped.

But I also just think this is a good time to say, out loud, that you're not your numbers.  When were trying to sort of understand our own value, and our worth, and our impact, we look to numbers because they're easy to understand, right?  I think that we often draw our confidence from them and when we see a bad one we lose some of that confidence.  And I think that we look to the things that we quantify, whether that's our AP test scores, or our net worth, or our BMI, or our, like, how much we can bench press.  I think we look at those things because they're easy to measure, not because they're actually good surrogates for our value, or how confident we should be and how much we should like ourselves.

There are many things that are more important, that are just much harder to measure with numbers, like how good you are at communicating, how driven you are, or how much you care, how thoughtful you are.  Whether or not you are willing to take on or really even want to take on things that are difficult for you.  We don't even try to test for that stuff, we just hope that the things we do test for are kind of like include of of that stuff inside of them somehow.

John, you made a video this week that had, you know, not a very interesting thumbnail, that didn't have your face in it, and the title was "Civil Twilight," which is not like "Ooh clickbait."  And of course that video got way fewer views than the average vlogbrothers video.  But if you just measure that by the number of views, you miss the fact that like, the people who watched that video got a very different experience.  Like I watched that, and it made me think so much more than the average video I watch.  And it made me proud to be your brother.

It's so easy to look to numbers to define other people, to define ourselves as if we're earthquakes.  Man, and I know people have heard this before and said it in a bunch of different ways and places but, when we define ourselves that way, it is bad.  If humans are 7 billion earthquakes on the planet, I wanna think less about how big my shake is, and more about what my shake does. And who I shake it with!  And John, I'm happy to be shakin' it with you.  I'll see you on Tuesday.