Numbered, I Am

October 27, 2011

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“I am not a number, I am a free man!” That memorable line by actor Patrick McGoohan is from the 1960s TV series The Prisoner, which riveted me years later. I remembered the line today when learning that I have a number. There’s nothing official or sinister about my number, 2,772,772,874, unlike that of McGoohan’s character, known only as Number 6. According to the United Nations Population Fund, I became the 2,772,772,874th person on Earth when I was born. While far from precise, the number — via this calculator — is a point of reference. With world population only a few days from topping 7 billion, I can now see the tiny speck that I am on the timeline of human history, a history in which nearly 76 billion people preceded me.