You Are Not Without Influence by Flower Pearson
The word "Influencer", once used to mean simply “one who influences another” now has a much more capitalist connotation. Social Media has become more of a marketing tool than anything else and unsurprisingly, what started out sounding so positive (ie a method of improving communication and enabling friendships to flourish”) has become just another way for companies to pursue sales and hit targets and any expression of interest in a YouTube personality or Instagram “model” only opens the floodgates for targeted marketing. It makes me feel a bit gross somehow, like I need a very hot spiritual shower. The only other time I have ever felt this sense of disappointed realisation of my worth as a human was when I first came to Canada and was invited to the birthday party of a new friend. I was delighted at the chance to get to know some new people and felt like I was over the worst of the intense loneliness that comes with a huge relocation like that. Alas, when I arrived, I discovered the “birthday party” was a sales pitch for cleaning products and offering me the chance to invest myself in a pyramid scheme. I remember the main event was a demonstration of how the magic cleaning cloth could remove butter which had been wiped all over a mirror. I have to say, butter encrusted glass is not a thing in my house and honestly I couldn’t have felt more depressed and nauseous if I’d licked the entire mirror clean myself. Above all it was depressing to hear anyone describe the sale of cleaning materials as a party! Not just that but all the guests had brought gifts for the hostess so we had effectively paid for the privilege of being seen as a possible source of income. It wasn’t all bad - there was cake - but you only got it after you’d entered your name and number in the door prize raffle (thus providing your contact details so you could receive notice of further opportunities to be of value). Otherwise there was really nothing party-like about it, unless you count the corporate logo display of balloons tied to the aforementioned buttered mirror.
It’s a strange thing, to click “follow” on the profile of a person you admire and willingly sign yourself up for a constant stream of advertising and suggestions of things you could do to be just like them. I can’t imagine, in real life, having a friend who insists on suggesting things I should do every few minutes, or products I could try to be a better person – a person like them. That person would be removed from my social circle instantly – even if they were the only one in it! I suppose technically two people can’t make a social circle on their own – perhaps more of a social blob – but you know what I mean.
The people that influence me most are people who just go about the business of being themselves. Just this last week I was camping with some friends and learned A LOT from my fellow campers though I don’t think they would ever be aware of it. Watching a friend deal with toothache was inspirational – she carried on regardless – I literally didn’t know toothache was possible without accompanying whining and demands for special treatment and cosseting. Watching another very glamorous friend chopping firewood effortlessly and efficiently taught me that beauty and toughness can very much go together! Another friend taught me that if I need to day drink whilst on vacation, it’s probably more to do with not liking my own company much than it is do with relaxation. There is certainly more but, for once, I will use my discretion and keep a few things to myself. Actually – that’s another thing I learned – one does not HAVE to speak every single thought out loud. Shutting up is a restful and calm thing. Who knew?
I feel I’ve been given some new tools to help live my life and they have been gifted to me by people I love and trust. And like any other gift received from a much admired friend, I’m going to use them long term. Thank you my friends - your influence is clinging to me like the smell of the campfire. And even though it seems implausible everyone should practice saying, and believing the phrase “I’m not without influence you know”.