‘I’m an influencer,’ you will often hear people say these days. A model with 6 million Instagram followers – Influencer. A journalist with 750,000 Twitter followers – Influencer.
Your following defines your sphere of influence, your reach, your importance. I’ve spent some time thinking about what it means to be an influencer, at least in my life. I’ve taken a step back and looked at my own purpose in this blog and asked myself a few questions – is my goal in this blog to become an ‘influencer’? What would I even do with a following?
Cart before the horse
Considering I have only a few readers here, an all but inactive Facebook account, and Instagram account with maybe a picture of my cat, and no Twitter account, if I am aiming to be an influencer I’m doing a pretty poor job of it.
It’s the dream to become internet famous though… right? That might have even replaced the ‘American Dream’ at this point. You drop a picture or a short video and it gets thousands of responses, potentially leading to brand deals and an easy lifestyle.
What you don’t hear about very often is the responsibility that comes along with becoming an influencer. Heck, most influencers don’t hear about or understand their responsibility. Flocks of teens and tweens consuming their content, looking to them as the pinnacle of beauty or masculinity.
Would I ever want that kind of responsibility? Could I handle it? Could I handle the ‘haters’ that came along with it? I don’t really have to know the answer to these questions because, at the end of the day, I don’t consider myself an influencer by the standards I’ve detailed above. I do, however, consider my an influencer in a different sense.
I have never written a successful novel. I don’t have a thriving social media following. No one on the street would recognize me. Yet, I’m an influencer, and so are you.
I have three younger brothers that see me. I have influence in their lives. One is chasing his dream to be a successful Twitch streamer, and I stand behind him doing what I can to help him see that dream become a reality even if the odds are stacked against him. As a result, I see his own influence growing with his young audience. I wouldn’t trade that for a million Twitter followers.
I run a D&D game. It has a real, tangible impact on the lives of my players and me. It’s time we spend together being vulnerable, growing closer to each other. It’s time spent laughing and at times crying. I wouldn’t trade it for 7 million Instagram likes.
I have a wife that intimately knows me, sees me, and loves me. If I could see myself the way that she sees me I could change the world. I wouldn’t trade that for 100 million YouTube followers.
I am an influencer. I am changing the world. And I’m doing it without a single successful social media account.
You are as well. Don’t fall into the trap that influence is calculated by follows, likes, or shares. Influence is your investment in the lives of those around you and that will always matter.