One person has power to change the world

Art+by+Richard+Sapp

Art by Richard Sapp

Atreyo Ghosh


Art by Richard Sapp

With so many people vying for attention in the blogosphere, 1 billion posting on Facebook and more than 100 million tweeting, I don’t think my voice can be heard enough to make a difference. People talk at the world rather than with it.
People blog about what they eat, whom they’re annoyed at and whom they’ve been in a relationship with for two weeks. They tweet song lyrics, blog about feeling sorry for themselves and post on Facebook fishing for complements to the extent it can be difficult to pay attention to anyone.
While I like reading the occasional blog about someone’s life, the sole purpose of those rants is to entertain, not inform. I have nothing against blogs; they are fun to read, but in the grand scheme of things, most ramblings on the Internet are insignificant and unimportant.
I’m not going to leave an important mark by blogging about the daily bits of my life: barely waking up in the morning, desperately sprinting to a late calculus class or sleepily doing homework into the wee hours of the morning.
But I don’t want my life to be insignificant. When I die, I want to know I made the world a better place, whether through an invention or a view, but how could I, one person, affect the entire world if I can’t even get the world’s attention?
Even if I got the attention, I still have a bit of a problem. Whenever I get down to work, I think rationally and logically, with regards only for people I am directly working with. As a result, I can come across as judgmental and cold when I’m just working something out. I tend to turn people away with my style of thinking.
With the dawn of the Internet, this problem only grew, as I talked to people largely over the web, not face-to-face. The ease of communication that comes with the Internet has eroded the quality of face-to-face communication; people just aren’t as used to it. When I compliment someone via text, they may see it as an insult without my facial expressions. This perceived negativity hurts my ability to talk to a global audience, even if I manage to capture the world’s attention.
However, recently, people have protested over a video on YouTube that is almost completely negative. When Nakoula Basseley Nakoula first posted the film, “The Innocence of Muslims,” on YouTube, I paid little attention. After all, what do the musings of an intolerant man have to teach besides hatred?
I sympathized with the protesters across the world, all of whom had good intentions though they chose violent protestations over peaceful grievance.
In my short, 17-year-old life, I had never come across a more morally gray situation. The protestors had all reason to object. They saw their religion mocked and derided, but they should not have killed innocent Americans. Though I understand the reason behind their protest, what I do not understand is why they resorted to brutality.
This video offended masses, caused the death of U.S. officials and destroyed the property of several governments. Protesters blamed the West for the video, instead of the video’s actual publisher, because of how their governments work. But in the midst of this chaos and destruction, I had a revelation.
Although Nakoula had made an awful choice in publishing that video, he affected people across the globe. When he spoke, people listened.
This man and his vile attitude showed me it is possible to affect a wide-reaching audience. People worldwide saw his video and responded to what he had to say. I hadn’t seen one person in modern times have that effect on the world before unless he or she was a state official or the leader of a significant cause, such as Mohandas Gandhi, John F. Kennedy and Winston Churchill.
Before Nakoula, I didn’t think it was possible for an average Joe to significantly affect a multinational audience, even in the Internet era. Unfortunately, effects can be both positive and negative. But I have renewed hope that I can achieve my desire to leave a mark on the world.
I just need to distinguish myself from the daily-life bloggers. Last year in Advanced Placement Language and Composition class, I learned people respond best to emotional appeals, such as the horrible ones conveyed in Nakoula’s film. I would stray as far from Nakoula’s example as possible in terms of the appeal. Kindness and justice trump over hatred and prejudice.
People don’t like being talked at. They listen and respond when there’s a conversation or when they feel offended. If I want to make a difference in this world, I need to feel for its citizens. I have a problem if people can’t tell that I care about what I talk about. Emotions drive all human actions; unless people can tell I’m emotionally driven, there’s no way they’ll listen.  Reaching an audience goes hand in hand with conviction and emotion.
Distinguishing oneself from the chatter of others is today’s challenge. I need to blend my logical thinking style with my personal emotion behind it. While the Internet has hurt face-to-face conversation, that is the only way for me to make a difference in our world.
By Atreyo Ghosh
This opinion piece is labeled as such on the desktop version.
What do you think? Is it possible for one average person to affect the world? I would love to learn what you think.