Count up, count down, count out! Everything is a number, but a number is not everything.

Numbers everywhere

‘Hey how are you doing’ asks an innocent passerby at the Metro station.

The reply?

‘Here are my Top 3 issues this morning:

  1. I’m late for work
  2. I hate my work
  3. You’re making me even later for work.’

running late

Somewhat taken aback the questioner withdraws his inquisitiveness and proceeds to the exit. There he stops and ask a member of staff:

‘Excuse me, how do a get to place A?’

Staff member replies: ‘See, let me tell you, here is a five-point plan:

  • You go out
  • You go to the bus stop E
  • You enter bus and swipe your travelcard
  • You arrive at your stop
  • And finally you…’

…get the bloody idea. Yeah okay.

Numbers everywhere

There are so many blog posts and articles online these days that appear to be overflowing with numbered lists. In fact they seem to be taking over from longer, more comprehensive and compelling pieces of carefully crafted prose, reducing complex ideas to mere bulleted lists.

Imagine if we all spoke like that?

‘What are you doing this weekend?’
‘Well here’s my top ten list of things I might do…’

Not give a shit

‘I’ve got problems at home, I need some advice.’
‘Here are Top Five ways to save your marriage…’

‘Mate, listen, I don’t know what to do with my life!’
‘Here’s a 101 reasons why nobody gives a shit; followed by a 6-point plan to stop being a loser.’

Sheesh! Who invented these blasted numbers? Oh yes, we did!

Hindu-Arabic numbers

But the problem here is not actually one of numbers – as I quickly jump to defend the invention because my people made it innit? – but of how we express ourselves these days.

‘Break it down for me willya?’

Okay then, here are the top ten ways that we… oh screw that shit!

It’s because of the desire – or is it now a necessity? – to over-simplify everything and lay it all out in easily digestible bite-sized packages. Nobody can read a paragraph, let’s just give em a list then.

Grammar Nazi

That’s just how people consume information now. I do it, and I often present content in the same way too. Ain’t no one got time to read a whole block of text, or contend with grammar Nazis picking apart each para, when we can just look up a list instead!

But ‘I am not a number!’ protested Number Six, ‘I am a free man!’ insisted The Prisoner.

Number 6 The Prisoner

However we’re obsessed with numbers in these data-driven days – we measure, we mark, we ROI, we SEO, we present, we project, we propose, we plead, we object, we concede, we know the crowd was bigger in 2009. Sorry, we just do.

So do we give in to nebulous numeration or do we start the fight-back against stagnant stats? After all numbers may be good for measuring, but they’re not up to much when it comes to instinct.

Surely our dependence on numbers limits us to cold hard calculations and logic without harnessing the spirit to make a guess, take a gamble, trust in God?

I believe

Remember numbers don’t always add up, the odds are often dismissively cast aside, and all calculations could be bunk, because the unquantifiable couldn’t be incorporated into the formula.

There’s no numbers to tell you it’s going to be a good day, there are no numbers saying you’ll be involved in an RTA that afternoon, there’s no numbers guiding you in love, there’s no numbers counting down the clock to your moment of demise.

Today is a good day to die

Hey now, I’ve got nothing against numbers – me and numbers, we’re pretty tight you know. But let’s dial back our reliance on them.

Let’s let fate, instinct and feel guide us a little more – that’s what makes us human, that’s what will stand us apart from the AI – no matter how smart Skynet gets.


Toss a pinch of salt over research data and survey results; throw away the confusing and meaningless spread sheets. Instead, close your eyes and deeply inhale pure inspiration.

Give your gut free reign every once in a while and just know that sometimes things are right just because they are, despite what accounting analysts say. That’s when true magic happens.

Now all that is settled, let’s get back to Top Ten Reasons why Shahzad’s Blog is the Best!

Shahzad number 1

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