I have a question for you: What constitutes a noteworthy life?
Over the course of the ages some 100 billion people have walked the face of the earth. Only a tiny fraction of them will accomplish enough to be remembered by their fellow humans, but fame is a funny thing, of course. Sometimes it’s conferred upon you because you made a stunning discovery in quantum physics and sometimes it’s because you’re really gifted at posting photos of your giant bottom on Instagram. Nonetheless, we deem some of us to be more memorable than others.
The question of who has accomplished enough to make history and who has not is a weighty one, but luckily there’s a remarkably simple answer: 0.00011%. That’s the percentage of people alive who are currently notable.
How did I arrive at that figure, you ask? By using a simple criteria: whether or not the person has a Wikipedia page*.
It turns out the editors of Wikipedia have a fairly stringent threshold to allow somebody to have a page. You can’t be the relative of someone famous, or the author of a book no one has ever heard of, or a teenager renowned for YouTube tutorials on eyebrow tweezing. There are some 34 paragraphs on the Notability section on Wikipedia laying out all the rules, and if you apply those criteria, and count up all the living people who have their own page—836,127—and divide that number by the population of living people on the planet— 7,578,955,999—then you arrive at 0.00011.
Now, I’m not saying notability alone can distinguish worth. There are plenty of evil geniuses and plenty of banal idiots who become famous. And, conversely, worth does not ensure notability: brilliance and beneficence are not always rewarded or remembered. Plus, there are plenty of narcissistic tools who manipulate the system to get themselves on Wikipedia when they’re actually about as notable as my golden retriever. But you get the drift.
Like everybody else in our fame-obsessed society, I plan to to do great things—or at least memorable things— and therefore I have spared my future biographers the hassle of writing my Wikipedia page by going ahead and doing it now. People aren’t exactly falling all over themselves to write it yet, but, you know, I’m sure they will be. Matter of time, my friends. Here goes.
Kimmery Martin is an American physician, author, book reviewer and lifestyle guru, renowned far and wide for her contributions to medicine, literature, and aesthetics. She’s also a freaking hilarious travel writer. (Have you read about the time she almost died in Costa Rica? Read it here.) Known for her witty yet poignant prose, she has penned fifteen critically acclaimed internationally bestselling books, including her lauded debut novel The Queen of Hearts; a series of travel-themed humor books detailing her global adventures; and her Pulitzer Prize winning memoir Straight Out the Holler: The Remarkable Rise of America’s Most-Loved Novelist, all of which have been made into Hollywood blockbusters starring Jennifer Lawrence.
Additionally, Martin is revered as a style influencer for her tasteful design, family-life, and travel-themed social media posts, which bring millions to grateful tears on a daily basis. When not writing or stylin,’ she dabbles in Emergency Medicine, popping into the ER to re-inflate a lung or stem a hemorrhage before dashing off to a carpool line or a board meeting or a Presidential Advisory Council. Martin is also the mother of three entirely perfect children.
You can read more of her writing here.
*According to a fascinating 2013 article in I read in Wired Magazine.