Thursday, March 10, 2011

The Impossibility of a Top 5 Influential List.

After almost-winning trivia the other night (by a scissor fist really) our "team" got into a heated discussion over who should be considered the Top 5 Most Influential People of our time.

This is an impossible task. Mainly because what one finds to be influential another may have never bothered with.

For example, if I tried to make a top 5 list of the most important feminists I could start with bell hooks, Audre Lorde, Judith Butler, Gloria Anzaldua, Donna Haraway....but those are women from a specific time period. What about Susan B. Anthony, Alice Paul, the Bronte Sisters, Virginia Woolf, Lucy Stone? What about Kathleen Hanna, Jessica Valenti, Hilary Clinton, Tina Fey, Oprah! I could barely pick just five from each decade. And this is just feminism.

What about inventors? What about scientists? Where would we be without our snuggies? More importantly where would we be without google? Netflix? Imitation chick'n patties?

But what our "team" was trying to get at was the root of paradigm shifts. Who was so influential that an entire society started acting and thinking in a different way? Is it possible to pinpoint that one "philosopher" or is it better to understand that we all build-up and interact with each other's ideas, that it takes a collective for a shift. Even if an individual has a good idea, if it doesn't stick it doesn't shift.

And of course there are people who are more influential than others, people who cause that stickness, but picking just five? No thanks. It's a debate that no one can ever win.

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