Here’s something I’ve decided to be forward about: I aim to be the most prominent influencer I can possibly be.
I know it sounds arrogant and silly. I’m no celebrity or fashionista, nor do I have Ph.D.-level expertise in any field. I’m just an average 54-year-old female special education teacher and wannabe influencer.
“Influence is the ability to affect someone else’s thinking.”
This line from the book Difficult Conversations is what drove me to admit it. One of my main reasons for having this blog, for posting and engaging in social media, for getting super excited about views, reads, followers, likes and such is that I want to influence other people’s thinking.
I happen to believe that what happens in the space between our ears is what matters most in human affairs. Our ideas, thoughts, and emotions ultimately drive our actions and have real-world consequences.
There’s nothing like a good story to get into people’s brains. That’s just what oral storytellers did for millennia. They spread ideas and influenced thinking through stories. Then humankind came up with the written word, the printing press, and widespread schooling and literacy. More recently, the accessibility of stories has exploded thanks to the internet and social media.
Think about it: the power of words and images to influence others can be wielded more readily and by more people than ever before. I want to avail myself of that power. I want to be an influencer.
We’re all part of the influencer-influenced human network. After all, we are a highly social, thinking species with an incredibly complex system of communication. Writing stories and posting on social media is my way of playing a more active role in the influencer sphere of the network.
I want to influence people’s thinking about aging. I’d love for more people to like how gray hair looks, especially on me. So as I go silver, I post photos on Instagram hoping people will get used to seeing more 54-year-old women with gray hair. Why can’t gray and silver be just another hair color?
I write stories about my 29-year-old autistic and intellectually disabled son to influence the conversation around developmental disabilities. What does a diagnosis mean? Where does disability begin and what does it add or take away? Is independence overvalued?
Heck, I’d love to influence people in all sorts of ways: to support causes close to my heart, to understand just how hard educators work, to buy their coffee at the coffee shop where Diego works, to value and love blue whales (my favorite animal) as much as I do, to watch a movie I found shockingly moving, or to chuckle at something I found funny.
I also write and post to delight, entertain, vent, denounce, support, inform, and share exciting moments. But no matter the topic, I always hope it’ll spark some reaction within that mass of neurons inside people’s skulls.
So yes, I want to be an influencer— in the broad sense of the word, the only one there was before social media and influencer marketing:
Influencer: a person who inspires or guides the actions of others. Merriam Webster
Influencer: someone who affects or changes the way that other people behave. Cambridge Dictionary
I can’t coerce or control anyone, but I might influence some.