**Warning: This is going to take a while, folks. This whole concept really took some contemplation, and pushed a few of my buttons. Kick back and get yourself your beverage of choice, and snuggle in for a bit of reading time.**
So, a while back I got an email from someone asking me if I wanted to be an "Influencer". If you're like me, your initial response is, "You want me to be a what?" I mean, obviously, it would be someone who influences people somehow, but that was the first time I had encountered the term. (Is Influencer even a real word? I'm not sure that it is.) It sounds kind of sinister -- like a mob position or something.
I had so many questions.
- What the hell is an Influencer?
- When did this become a thing? Are there really that many people out there relying on the opinion of strangers on the internet for guidance in their lives?
- How did you even find me to ask?
- Why in the world would anyone think I had any kind of influence to begin with? I am, if we are being extremely generous, a teeny little blip in the existence of the internet.
So I did a little research, and found an interesting article. It would appear that Influencers can be bloggers, and they write and review "things" to make people like "things" more. I highly doubt anyone would be reaching out to bloggers to review their product in a negative way. I'm also guessing there is some sort of compensation scheme involved.
Would I like to make money off of my little blog here, Friends? Yes. That would be pretty sweet, and I do like money. And that is where we come to the first bump in the road.
I hate, abhor, detest (fill in your negative association here) trying to read something on the internet and having 90 million ads blocking the actual content that you want to see. I don't care if it is a news article, a blog post, some click-bait bullshit thing that tempts you -- it annoys the crap out of me when there is more ad clutter on the screen than actual content that you wanted to read in the first place. Don't even get me started on those auto-play video ads. That's why there aren't any ads here (or there better not be, at any rate.) Blogger is more than happy to tell me how to monetize my blog with Google, but I choose not to. I'm also not going to start a Kickstarter, or Go Fund Me, or otherwise beg for money for something I would be doing anyway. There are people and causes that need it more. You have money you want to burn? Donate it to a charity, give it to the homeless person on the street, send an anonymous donation to your local animal shelter.
The idea of an Influencer kind of feels like you would be a bit dishonest and selling your soul to make money. You write about this super-awesome "thing", and try to convince people how wonderful it is. There doesn't appear to be a lot of transparency in the whole "they-gave-me-this-stuff-to-make-you-buy-it" situation. I have no problem saying how great a "thing" is if I stumble across it, nor do I have a problem saying it was utter crap. I do have a dislike for essentially trying to con people, shilling a product that secretly is for your own benefit.
I don't like selling things, which is a large part of the reason why I work in a public service position. I feel bad trying to convince people to part with their hard-earned money for stuff that isn't going to make their life dramatically better and will be inconsequential in the long run. It annoys me when people try to get me to buy shit I'm not interested in, and I don't want to do it to anyone else. My brother? He's smooth. He could sell ice cubes to Eskimos. I am very much the opposite, and any time I have had to try to sell things as a job I have sucked at it. I have a very Lloyd Dobler approach to it all.
Don't even tell me you don't know who Lloyd Dobler is. Watch and learn, kids.
Friends, when I got this email I had very mixed feelings about the entire concept. On the surface it was flattering and sort of sweet that someone out there thought I had opinions/views that people might care about and listen to. I could use my powers for good, be a positive force in the lives of others. Somebody seemed to think I was persuasive enough to do it.
On the other hand, I found the whole thing highly ridiculous and amusing. Who do you think I am? Did you hit your head and somehow get me mixed up with a Kardashian? You're addressing someone with less than 500 Twitter followers. I have zero clout of any kind.
It was priceless. All I could think of was a recurring situation from my childhood. I can't even count the number of times my Mother would tell me, "Go tell your brother to _________ (clean his room/come in for dinner/get away from the road/etc). He'll listen to you." Poor, poor, delusional woman. I told her numerous times he didn't listen to me. Being sent on such a mission only ever had about a 50% chance of success, and that was generally if I opened with the phrase, "Mom says...". The misguided person who had sent me the email was likely suffering from the same misconception of my persuasive abilities as my Mother had done for years.
Putting all that aside, I would be a horrible choice for an Influencer, Friends. Honestly.
If I had to try to influence people about anything it would be that they don't need to listen to someone called an Influencer.
Be yourself. Do your thing. Let your freak flag fly. You just do you. Whatever cliche expression fits.
Like what you like. Forget whether other people think it is "cool" or not. Odds are they like some weird stuff that you wouldn't enjoy.
Be happy. Do what you enjoy. Life is too short to worry about what other people think. Find your passion and run with it. Maybe it's a job you love, or a hobby that lifts your spirits. Not to go all Nike on you, but just do it.
Think. For. Yourself. You do not need to listen to someone called an Influencer to find out what you should be doing, or what music you should listen to, what clothes to buy, or what to think. Think the latest fashion trend looks insane? Don't do it. Does the idea of listening to Justin Bieber make you twitch and want to plug your ears? Don't do it! Just because some random person on the internet tells you something is awesome doesn't mean you have to agree with them. (It also does not give you the right to be an asshole to them because you disagree.)
Yeah. I realize that was hugely hypocritical, Friends. That was essentially a big long list of reasons to persuade people not to listen to an Influencer. The irony is not lost on me.
Suffice it to say, I did not accept their offer to become An Influencer. I like to think the internet is for the free exchange of ideas, for connecting and sharing -- not to try to sell shit to people 24/7 by any means possible. Just know that if I share something here and tell you how super-cool-awesome-amazing I think it is? I really mean it, and I'm not getting anything out of it. I would never try to sell you shit for my own benefit.
*Friends, if you are still reading at this point, thank you. You deserve a treat. Get yourself a cookie or something. That was a lot of navel-gazing and contemplation we just went through.*