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Thursday, May 18, 2017

On Being An Influencer

I read a blog post yesterday recapping an "Influencer's dinner" attended by a blogger I follow. A brand the blogger writes sponsored posts for had invited she and six other "influencers" for a weekend showcasing the very best of the brand in the hopes that these influencers would say great things about the brand to you and me, the influenced. As I read her post I couldn't get over the idea that Influencer is a job title these days - one you become eligible for based on the huge numbers of social media followers you have.

And if I'm honest jealously is probably why I got so stuck on the idea. I thought, "I want to be an Influencer. I could be an Influencer. I should be an Influencer. I have good opinions, I have great thoughts." I got so caught up in it for a second. It was really small and really ugly.

Social media has twisted our perception of influence. We believe that if we don't have 10,000 followers on Instagram, if we do not get a ton of likes and shares on the articles we post, we are not Influencers. We are artificially divided into two categories, the Influencers and the Influenced.

And then I remembered truth- I am an Influencer. 

In my job, with my kids, in the relationships with those around me, I am an Influencer. 

But I take it this influence for granted. I don't craft my words as carefully in real life as I do online. I forget that memories of time spent playing with my kids will last longer than the pretty picture of our day I post online. If you're wired the way I am and you look to the right and to the left and desperately want to have an influence that looks impressive, you probably take these things for granted as well.

It's hard as a stay-at-home mom to see the impact or the outcome of my influence on a daily basis. When I say things I think are witty, or brilliant, or profound, there's no one around the kitchen table oohing and aahing over me. The feedback I crave (which is probably innate to us all?) is lacking from my kids, so receiving it from social media in the form of likes and followers is validation of my influence. And when I don't get what I think I deserve (that post was so funny...why don't more people like it?) it becomes a referendum on my worth, something that impacts me far more than it ought to.

But no matter how big my circle of influence is, I am an Influencer. 

Whether I have 15 followers or 15,000, I am an Influencer. And my influence is far greater around the kitchen table and in my neighborhood than it will ever be online. I have way more influence in the lives of the kids in my backseat, way more influence in the lives of my friends from the gym, way more influence in the life of my sister-in-law and brother-in-law and my nieces and nephews than I ever will with my followers online.

And you are an Influencer.

You are being watched. Your words are being stored in hearts, your actions are being mimicked for better or worse. Your life is impacting the people around you. So let's steward the influence have wisely. Let's not take it for granted and throw it under the bus because we wish we had influence in other places or with other people.

And now I'm going to go live my real life and try not to care if you "like" this or not.... ;)

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