There are over 60 million WordPress sites and more than 200 million Tumblr blogs. More than 1.2 billion people and companies have Facebook accounts. There are 250 million registered Twitter users, and 200 million people have signed up for Instagram. Clearly, a lot of us have something to say.
Never before in history has it been so easy for so many to speak their minds. It’s a form of freedom, this ability to become one’s own publisher. Whether you want to write 500 word posts or display photos from your daily life or show us the before-and-after from your latest project, there is a way to do it easily. Anyone with a mobile device can tell the world what matters to him or her, immediately.
Think of how tightly the written word was controlled even 100 years ago. Books were produced by publishers, and newspapers were delivered once a day. Only certain individuals in certain professions could tell stories to multitudes, people like journalists and authors, preachers and politicians. Even then, their reach was limited by who was in earshot or in their subscription base. Today, there are no limits to how far our words can spread out into the world.
Now that we have our choice of mouthpieces and a worldwide audience, and billions of us regularly share our point of view, it’s noisy. Even so, a few voices rise above the din. They are a mixed group, with varied interests and expertise, some humorous some serious, male and female, diverse in every way. They stand out not because of their subject matter or personality but because they speak their truth.
Finding one’s voice is not simply crossing the chasm from not-writing to writing. It’s figuring out what we each want to say. Those who have done it successfully cut through the noise clearly. We listen because they are vulnerable on the page; there is no persona they hide behind.
I am impressed and delighted with people who say what they think in any arena, whether it’s an op-ed piece or a tweet. I like to see the power of words in action. Entire revolutions could be launched from a single blog or post, minds could be opened, people could be informed. The powerless could have power, and the powerful could find that money is no longer what makes the world go around. At these moments, I feel an evolutionary shift, as if the pace of human development is accelerating and I am watching it happen.
I admit I struggle mightily with all of this. My best writing happens when I let go of what I think will sound good or clever and write directly from my gut. No carefully crafted, appeals-to-everyone niceties, but balls-to-the-wall truth telling. After a lifetime of being the good girl, doing what I’m told, not causing a scene, it takes some practice to shed that persona. I know I’ll have found my voice when I no longer have to tell myself to just say it. It’s worth the effort, though, because I don’t want to watch the world change, I want to be one of the people pushing it along.