Popularity: Quality over quantity

Quality-over-Quantity

Arguing that an idea or product has merit because it has popular support is one of the oldest argument tactics around. It is also one of the most flawed. Does McDonald’s have the best hamburger because they sell billions?

Sure, products can become popular because they have the best quality. Or, they can become popular because they have a lot of advertising. Or they have no competitors. Or because their name is first in the alphabet. Or people have resistance and don’t want to switch. There are a lot of reasons. It is a fallacy to think that just because something happened/was elected/was decided, it was the “best” decision.

What makes a great work of art? Almost entirely, it is how much it sells for. An expensive avant-garde painting that breaks through a price barrier will define an entirely new school for years to come.

We do the same thing with music… if a song takes off, sells lots of copies and makes the musician rich and famous, we assume that there is some sort of inherent ‘quality’ in what they did, as opposed to deciding that our definition of quality in that field is: what sells.

The critic in me cringes to write this.

After all, what makes a great work of art should have nothing at all to do with how much it sells for and everything to do with how it makes you feel.

I think the game here is in the definition of ‘great.’ And what society has chosen, for a coffee shop, a song, a poem, is that ‘great’ means successful. Not the other way around.

So the challenges, I guess, are to get good at predicting ‘great’ before the market takes action, and to be clear with yourself and your colleagues about what exactly you are trying to build.

Some of what I consider as good articles on  my blog are not necessarily the most popular.

Are you doing what you are doing because you want to be popular or because you want a specific niche, a tribe you are looking for.

Popularity is not a guarantee of quality. It is always better to choose quality over quantity, substance over form and simplicity over complexity.

The level of quality is not affected by whether it is popular or not. Quality is quality, even when no one is looking.

Your self-worth should not be determined by your level of popularity or how good you look to other people. It’s always better to be comfortable in your own skin.

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