NaiadIna

Australia

Hi! I'm Nydia // 16 // chronic nerd // philosophy // butter chicken & chocolate cake

Message from Writer

If anyone ever wants a peer review, just ask! :)

The Numeric Condition

October 19, 2020

Ok, so, you know how there are some things you just can’t get out of your head? For me, it’s the face of this young, blonde girl. She was about yae high, with a smile that reached her eyes.
 
There was a photo of her on my Twitter timeline, so I started to read about her. And I don't particularly know why she stood out to me. It might’ve been how positive the thread was. She did sound like the kind of girl I'd love to be friends with.
 
So, I click on her profile and I'm about to activate stalker-mode, like, how can I find out more about this girl?
 
But then I get to her profile. And, I realise she’s dead.
 
This smiling young person, this girl my own age, was a victim of a school shooting. And beneath that post was an entire thread of others, telling the stories of other victims at her school.
 
I'd heard the statistics about school shootings before. But as an Australian, I never stopped to learn more. There was an ocean between me and those numbers. Numbers; not kids.
 
As humans, we collectively ignore problems until they hit close to home. Google tells me over 200,000 people have died from COVID-19 in the US, but as an Australian, I didn’t know that. As an Australian, it didn’t matter.
 
Death toll numbers seem scary to us these days, but why only now? Why only when the lives of our own family members are at risk? Statistics insulate us from human suffering until the suffering arrives on our doorsteps.
 
Ok: how many times have you been at the shops, and you see someone collecting donations, so you’re like, wow, suddenly my shoes look so interesting.
 
“1 in 5 Australian women have experienced sexual violence?” eh, you hear that sort of stuff every day.
 
Yeah, you could spare a few coins. But where will they go? To a statistic. Not people.
 
I mean, as teenagers, we are the most desensitised generation yet. We skim over devastating news stories with a shrug. We identify our own friendships by the number of Snapchat streaks we have. We’re more concerned about likes and followers than the human beings pressing those buttons.
 
But there just might be something we can do.
 
There’s a reason the face of that girl is burned into my mind. The teenagers at that school, they could have posted numbers that would be mindlessly scrolled by. But instead, they posted faces and stories, and they reached millions.
 
I stopped to read all the posts that day. And I felt something in that moment. I didn't know it at the time… but it was the same feeling I’d get when my grandpa would end up in the hospital and my mum would tell me to take a day off school because it might be the last time I saw him.
It was the same feeling I’d get when my Uncle would die of a heart attack.
It was the same feeling I’d get when a classmate would sit down beside me at the station one morning, stare at his Nike sneakers and say, "my sister died last night."
 
It was the feeling that we humans are meant to experience when faced with suffering and injustice. This intrinsic grief for a member of our own tribe. I didn’t know that girl on Twitter, but the feeling came to me then. And yet, in a world full of suffering and death, it was the first time it ever had.
 
The stories of those kids whose lives were stolen by a gun connected me to the suffering of my own kind. And stories in general reach so much farther than numbers, because as humans, we inherently gravitate towards narratives. It's why World Vision asks you to sponsor one child, rather than donating to the feeding of 10,000. It’s why GoFundMe campaigns in the name of one person often rack up more than charities who help thousands.
 
Our ancestors would sit under the night sky and tell stories around the campfire. Whether that sky brought them the southern cross, or the constellation of Aquarians in the north, the stories would connect them all the same.
 
As teenagers, as the future generation, we have to keep the campfire alight. We have to keep sharing our stories. So, don’t scroll past the statistics: research the stories behind them. Don’t just add your like to a post about an issue: be an advocate. Don’t count your Snapchat streaks: appreciate the real hours you spend with your friends.
 
We have to be the ones to see through the numbers. We have to spark dialogue. We have to keep real connections alive. Because we cannot be silenced by numbers.
  
 
 
Audio file:
https://clyp.it/yhpuy5z4?token=77964a296a0392d1b91f3e13361a0f20
 
References:
Covid in the U.S.: Latest Map and Case Count, The New York Times, updated 6/10/2020, available at: https://www.nytimes.com/interactive/2020/us/coronavirus-us-cases.html (accessed 10/10/20)

Family, domestic and sexual violence, Australian Institute of Health and Welfare, 11/09/19, available at: https://www.aihw.gov.au/reports/australias-welfare/family-domestic-and-sexual-violence (accessed 10/10/20)

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21 Comments
  • Bhavya's Treasure

    I'm late but nevertheless CONGRATS, Nydia! *o*


    6 months ago
  • Rachaelgrace

    This is so powerful! Wonderful job.


    6 months ago
  • thea_ivy

    I was crying by the end of this, this is extremely powerful. Good job


    6 months ago
  • Coolgirl2020 (LOVE YA ALL)

    Congrats on the win! Your message is totally right! Good job! <3


    6 months ago
  • taniak

    Congrats!! This is an incredible speech!


    6 months ago
  • ~wildflower~

    I have loved and been astonished by this speech from the beginning, and the improvements you made have made it more than worthy of its placing. Your words are so insightful and the stories you tell create such a vivid image in my mind that it is impossible for me to turn away from them. This is a truely amazing speech! Congratulations!!!


    6 months ago
  • Writing4Life

    Wow. This hits hard. I'm an Australian teenager, so I get this. When you wrote this line "Ok: how many times have you been at the shops, and you see someone collecting donations, so you’re like, wow, suddenly my shoes look so interesting.

    “1 in 5 Australian women have experienced sexual violence?” eh, you hear that sort of stuff every day." I realized, that's what I do. I always thought about the school shootings, but I'm homeschooled, so it's never been a danger for me. But when you think about it, wow. Thank you for writing this, and congratulations on 2nd place. <3


    6 months ago
  • storie_bird

    Congrats, this is an intelligently crafted piece--amazing!


    6 months ago
  • anemoia (#words)

    I'm almost crying. Besides the excellent structure and rhetorical devices, the emotions behind this speak louder than any sort of devices or ploy. This message needs to be screamed at the world: we are not numbers. We are people, every one of us. And like you said, it's easier to help one person than a thousand. It starts with one person. One gesture of kindness. The way you emphasized the feeling that we get when terrible something happens. It's one that we need to experience. This spoke volumes. Congratulations!


    6 months ago
  • rwong

    This is an amazing speech!! Congratulations! well deserved :)


    6 months ago
  • Starlitskies

    I just listened to you reading your speech and I was dumbfounded! This is so powerful. And I think this is something we all really need to hear. You definitely deserve it. Congratulations!


    6 months ago
  • doodleninja

    Congratulations on the win!!! Gosh, this speech is outstanding, and this message needs to be heard everywhere! Amazing writing :D


    6 months ago
  • sci-Fi

    Congrats!! You totally deserved it!


    6 months ago
  • Anne Blackwood

    Omigosh!! Congratulations!!! I KNEW this piece was special. I'm so happy for you.


    6 months ago
  • SunV

    Yay! Congratulations on the win! I've said it before, this is a wonderful piece, and you deserved it!


    6 months ago
  • ~Zoe N~

    Congratulations on the win, this is stunning, great job


    6 months ago
  • Anlee

    this piece is so captivating! i didn't enter the competition but best of luck to you~


    7 months ago
  • Bhavya's Treasure

    Re: Indeed, they are! :)


    7 months ago
  • Bhavya's Treasure

    Re: Thank you, Nydia! The thing is I'm done with my school now and bidding my time until I join college. And well, this site is too good to be resistible. The crowd here is just Amazing! :D

    I don't know if you'll believe it or not but I'd read your winning peer review and some others as well BEFORE the winners were announced and I had really liked the way you'd done your work. I wanted to compliment you then but you hadn't published any piece till then so, I couldn't contact you. Well, today I thought of telling you. :)
    Congratulations for that well-deserved win! :D
    Good day!


    7 months ago
  • Bhavya's Treasure

    Wow! Not only the words but your voice... Both are equally powerful to make an impact!
    All the best! :)


    7 months ago
  • SunV

    Yay! An audio recording! I can't wait to listen to it!


    7 months ago