An Influencer. What’s That?

I swear to God if I didn’t have kids or Grandkids I would know nothing that is going on in this world. There is stuff happening here, there, and everywhere and it seems as if it passes right by my house. Never to settle.

My daughter was talking about an acquaintance and her recent Instagram post. I don’t recall the content or the subject or anything else about it other than my daughter saying, “She wants to be an influencer.” Now I know that if I sat with this word long enough I could figure it out on my own but it is just easier to say “A what”? Well, turns out it is a thing. But then again it was always a thing. We just never had cute names for things back when I was young.

According to the dictionary (I prefer Merriam Webster), an influencer is “one who exerts influence.” Insert eye roll here! It then goes on to say “A person who inspires or guides the actions of others.” So in my mind this is just word play and nothing more. But then my daughter went on to explain that modern day influencers make loads of money because basically they advertise products on social media. If you have a large following, there is something about you that people like or admire or find fascinating. So in time it seems that companies offer these people money or free things in order to have their products promoted by the “influencer.” Sounds to me a lot like really cheap advertising. Which it is.

Back in the day of Darren Stevens (Samantha’s husband on Bewitched) companies paid massive amounts of money for advertising. The whole premise of the show seemed to revolve around landing that new account which seemed to be in the millions. There were mishaps and odd things happening every week since Samantha was a witch but in the end a new slogan or campaign was magically thought up in the last few minutes of the show. And of course everyone loved it. Darren’s job was saved, once again and Larry Tate his friend and boss, didn’t fire him. Again. Whew! The movie “Lover Come Back” with Doris Day and Rock Hudson also centred around advertising but without a product. Just a scam that Mr Hudson used to get Doris to fall in love with him. Again, big money and cut throat industry. But cute love story.

After this conversation I recalled a news story about a young teenage gal who was doing well with her on line presence. Shit hit the fan when her parents went to jail for paying bribe money to get her into college. There was personal backlash I believe both online but also monetarily. Apparently she didn’t understand it was wrong as lots of people she knew were doing it but now she realizes her views come from not understanding how privileged she was. Sadly young people see that privilege and are jealous. And they want it. What the normal everyday teen doesn’t understand fully is that their very “following” of these individuals is what sets the influencer apart from mere mortal. They earn money by just having you follow them. I finally understand that part because I get a ton of emails telling me how I can make money with my blog. Well, not me. Other people with followers. I mean, I have followers. I am up to twelve now in two and a half years. Mostly friends and family. I also finally figured it out when some of the recipes I wanted to try took so long to get to as I waded through the advertisements. I now just try stuff when the recipe is just there. Not five pages of talking about which blender is better. It is hard enough for me to navigate through my own little website. I only posted “relevant” pictures a couple of times. Because it is like work. I just want to sit and write about what catches my fancy so one day when I am dead and gone my Grandkids can get an idea of who I was. Who I am. And who I will one day morph into.

Here is the thing, I am still influenced now as I was fourty years ago. Walking around out in the world. After 60 years fashion has limited options for change. I have gone through the same styles sometimes as many as 4 times. Mom pants? I wore them when I was a young Mom. When I was skinny and I could pull off high-waisted baggy stuff. I also wore high waisted when I was fifteen. Low rise. Flare. Baggy. Indian cotton. Tight. Loose. Knits. Plaids. It all comes in and out so much. There are things I love to wear and every once in a while they come into fashion for a bit and I am cool. It is a brief flash in the pan. I even realized the other day I am just like my Mom. She would wear a bizarre combination and put a clip in her hair to hold it out of her eyes. Grab her Safeway bag full of stuff and head out for the day. She thought she looked great. It made her happy. Mirrors tend to show me what others see. On the outside. What they don’t see is how I feel. Really that is more important. My momma taught me so many lessons. I even had a hair clip one day last week.. My daughter laughed. So did I because we remembered that old lady. My Mom.

My life has changed so much in sixty years. Good times and bad times brought lessons and so many memories. I am not my experiences. I am not my clothes or my hair or my make up. I am not even my thoughts. These are things that I do or I think or I wear on this body of mine. I am not my body. I am not my opinions or feelings. I am not sure who are what I am but I do know I am pretty content living inside this imperfect shell I call me. One day it will die but I will live on. Until then I will try to make this body last as long as possible before it gives out on me. And then my little twin flame and I will be reunited once again.

I have had my share of exposure to people who wish to teach me something. Often it revolves around making money. To those who have a passion and can also make money I say good for you. Influencing is big now and if it can help you to have the life you dream of, right on. Often we have passions and we want to share them with others. In time we realize it can be our job. That my friends is awesome. Trust me, I understand that these influencer types work hard at what they do. I can’t even post a blog once a week. Whether what they are selling is meaningful is another story. At this time in my life I am pretty set in my ways and when I do switch gears it is usually quick, completely dramatic and in fact often opposing to my prior path. And apropos of nothing really. One day I wake up and think… I am going to do this now! My influences come from odd things and not usually Instagram.

Why do we get offended when someone we know is trying to become an influencer? We all do it in some form or another. Its just giving of opinions. If that was all that was needed I would be the biggest influencer of them all. I have opinions. On everything! I think there are so many components that enter into it. Number one is a form of jealousy. And number two I think is their lack of credibility. We are more apt to think of strangers as experts because we don’t know them. We make assumptions about their background because somewhere somehow they were given the title of expert. So, our friends start a new thing and hit up the old internet people and tell them what they know. We know this guy and he is no more of an expert than we are so it pisses us off that they are in fact “lying” as far as we are concerned. But there is also a little piece of us that are jealous because we think we know more but no one listens to us. Or we didn’t think of it first. It is all in us these feelings but we can do something about it. Call them out and risk looking bad or get your ass in gear and do your own thing. Perhaps that friend was put there to motivate you. Or perhaps it made you look inside yourself and find what your own true calling might be. Lesson learned. Often our true colours show through in our actions. Do we really want to influence someone to help them or is it about making money. Perhaps its ego. We are all on our own paths and we can only examine our own motives with any amount of clarity. Even then we tend to lie to ourselves. While we set the bar high for others we often don’t hold ourselves accountable to the same degree. It’s painful to see your own faults.

I have been an expert a few times in my life. Not really, but people thought I was more than I really was. I was often on the council at my church. I loved the Vice President job the most because it was a title and I did nothing. But people thought I did something so I looked good. It fit my lazy profile. Unfortunately it will eventually lead to the role of President which sucks because then you actually have responsibilities. Anyways, my first experience as President was thrust upon me when the sitting President had to step down for personal reasons. Boom. I was in. Then one Sunday I arrived at Church and I was a little more popular than I had been. More people wanted to talk to me. I was suddenly adored by a lot of little old ladies. I was the President. I was somebody. At least in their eyes. It was such an icky feeling. I felt like a fraud. Because I was. I hadn’t changed overnight. I was still the incompetent boob who was late for every meeting. Who still used inappropriate four letter words when I was frustrated. Even in a church council meeting. But there it was. A title. Wow…..

My initial foray in the oil industry was with Suncor Energy. I was sent by a placement agency to work on a one month project. I was a contract employee. I had one specific job and when it was done I was on my way to the next job. Now, full time positions were hard to come by so this was how I managed to work. It was good because I made more money as a temp and my hubby had benefits. Win/win I say. although job security was an issue. My education showed I was capable and competent even though my experience showed neither of these things. One day as I sat at my desk plodding along, a gal wandered in with a question. I answered it to the best of my ability. Although I had no practical experience in the area she was asking about, my education had given me exposure. But then I asked her a question. Why come to me? Why not a co-worker? Her reply… I was the consultant so she thought I was an expert. She had no idea how little I knew. Again I was a fraud. That was when I decided my career path would be that of a consultant and it lasted for many years. I eventually stopped working with the agency and word of mouth kept me employed until one day when I decided to be a fulltime Grandmother. It didn’t pay well but it was more enjoyable. I am not an idiot and in time I was able to jump into many positions without losing a step. That is a valuable asset. But I also managed to carve out a niche specialty for myself which made me extremely marketable. In time I did become the expert. And I charged for that. But I started as a fraud.

I think we often feel like frauds in our lives. Our confidence just isn’t there. We second guess ourselves. And it can be extremely frustrating when you know that your friend knows nothing but she is getting the jobs you are qualified for. Well, all I can say is this. I have a brother who has often told me how lucky I am. My whole life has been just one big lucky streak. In his eyes. However, as my husband would tell me though “The harder I work the luckier I am.” I may have stumbled into my career but it took me seven years to obtain the education I needed to even become the temp. I worked at shit jobs before that. I also found areas where my own particular skillset was needed. It took time and a lot of work and in the end it was great. I was my own boss and freedom is the one thing in this world I value above all else. There was some luck though and it would be arrogant for me to dismiss that

So even though this influencer thing is foreign to me, you go for it. If it works for you great. If you are a fraud people will hopefully figure it out. If they don’t well, that is on them. As for me I have learned that I have pretty much seen so much already, that I am good with life. I don’t need influencing. I will dress as I dress. Drive my old 2005 truck. Until it dies. I will reupholster the chairs I have because I like them even if the fabric is threadbare. I will rely on what has served me well in the past. I can’t fit much more into my brain. Besides it is harder to get it out. I get to be an old lady. It is a freeing time of life. But if there are some good vegan recipes out there I am hoping to try them. But not if I have to scroll for half an hour. I am sixty and ADD. I’ve got no time…

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