According to a 2019 survey of 2,000 Americans ages 13-38, 86% were willing to try out social media influencing for work. Truthfully, at first, this headline fueled my cynical side but a quick look at the motivations cited helped me see people’s underlying humanity. People weren’t just motivated by making money or getting free products, they wanted to make a difference, have flexible working hours and share ideas with others. They also wanted to have fun. Fame ranked lowest on the list. There’s a market for influencers because people trust those that appear to be everyday folk like themselves vs. those with too much celebrity and fame. But there is a bit of a trap here. In the same study, only 12% of people considered themselves influencers.
Influence is the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something. When we think of the term “influencer”, our default is to think in a social media marketing sense given popular jargon. In this context, the influencer’s goal is to typically make us buy something. This is neither everyone’s passion and skill, nor should it be. I would hate to live in a world where every human became a walking billboard. Besides, lets not forget that each of us is an influencer with far more weight than we realize.
My life has been influenced by the everyday presence, words and examples of my parents, husband, aunts and uncles, siblings and cousins, in-laws, friends, teachers, mentors, co-workers, neighbors and acquaintances. I’ve even been influenced by strangers. I’ve absorbed the most profound lessons of love, compassion and generosity, of courage and humility, of patience and sacrifice. These lessons and experiences came silently and without fanfare or observers. When eventually I picked books from wise sages and they invoked these traits, I didn’t have a hard time relating because I had everyday examples. The realization that I was surrounded by exemplary people day in and day out made me more thankful, peaceful and joyous in my existence.
On the flip side, I’ve also been negatively influenced by others when I shrank myself after I was made to feel less-than. We humans have the power to do that to each other. Let’s never forget that our every interaction is an opportunity for influence and that we can choose to be constructive and generative. 100% of us are influencers.
Written in honor of my biggest influencer, my precious Mother. Happy birthday, Ma!
“My daughter is strong. My daughter is brave.”― My Mom, during my weakest moments