You’re scrolling through Instagram, and there it is. The discount count code for that special vitamin you’ve been wanting. Why do you want that vitamin? Well, it’s because one of your favorite instagram influencers has been posting about it for weeks. You love her clothes. She has the perfect house. She has the coolest life. You’ve been dying to have the skin that glows like hers- so you MUST try the discounted vitamins she is offering you. I mean have you seen the packaging it comes in? Look at the way her perfectly polished fingernails look while holding it. Maybe you’ll finally feel as pretty as you think she is if you take this vitamin. 30% off for a monthly subscription? Sounds good to me. Purchase completed. Your shipment is on the way.
It’s official. You have been influenced.
Have you ever found it interesting that there is now an entire industry for “influencers?” Influence- a word that once referenced how we affect the behaviors and actions of people around us, now used to describe a career path in which people with significant social media followings create an intriguing online presence and advertise an array of products to us. The world of advertising has been transformed by the “influencer” phenomenon. There is not anything wrong with this per se. If I was given the opportunity to make money talking about my favorite face wash or my most helpful nutritional supplement, I absolutely would.
However, what I find curious is the name we give this position. We have conditioned a generation of young people to believe that in order to have influence, we must have large followings. We are led to believe that we must have some level of fame to have impact. While there is value in having a large platform to foster change, the problem lies in thinking that it is the only way to do so.
Have you ever considered your sphere of influence? Maybe you’re a big sister, and your younger siblings look to you as a role model. Maybe you spend a significant amount of time with your coworkers and they watch how you handle clients. Maybe someone younger than you admires your life from afar. Maybe the cashier checking you out at the grocery store is having a really bad day, and you have the opportunity to make them smile.
It can be easy to feel insignificant in a sea of perfectly edited photos, engagement metrics, follower counts, and superficial understandings of achievement and success. But what I am here to tell you is: you already are an influencer. YOU have the power to impact your circle, no matter how big or small it may be. Fostering change does not have to be widespread to be worthwhile.
Think about it: who has had more influence on your life? Your mom or the fashion blogger you follow on instagram? Your coworker or your favorite news anchor? Your mom and your coworker most likely have more influence on your life because they have consistent relationships with you. You see what they do and say when they think nobody is watching.
Forget about the world of social media and take a look in the mirror. How have you been influencing those around you in the grind of your day to day life? Are you always complaining? Are you always looking down at your phone? Do you smile? Do you treat people with kindness? Do you act with integrity?
You do not need to have good character to craft the perfect social media presence. But, you do have to maintain some level of morality to positively influence people in your everyday life.
So I leave you with this: how will you use your influence?