By Shefa Ali
‘Influencer’ is a term that doesn’t quite sit so well with me. I feel there is almost a danger in what we connect to that title. What I see with clients, friends and the community at large is that it’s impacting peoples’ subconscious mind which very soon becomes their version of reality.
Just to make myself absolutely clear, I don’t have an issue with the role of an ‘influencer’. I understand why the need for the role exists in the ever widening digital landscape we currently live in. What concerns me though, is the attachment of power we give to someone who society has bestowed with this title.
Words have great power. I am very conscious of the words I use with others and with myself. The word ‘influence’ is extremely powerful, it’s something that sways one to do something, to believe in something. It’s a strong force, it can be forceful. Influence has an effect. In my view, influence needs to have an authentic organic element to it, a sharing of knowledge and information; it should also come with a sense of responsibility.
Have you ever found yourself scrolling through Instagram and nearly an hour later jumped from one account to another having a conversation with yourself that goes something like:
“Her life is so amazing. My life is so boring.”
“She is always having fun. I am so lonely.”
“He has such a successful career. I am a total failure.”
“Her body is perfect. My lips are so small.”
“He always looks so happy. Why am I always depressed?”
Now, let’s take a closer look at two definitions in the Oxford Dictionary:
A person or thing that influences another.
A person or company that advertises a product, service, or event.
If you are paid to promote or sell a product, even if you do genuinely love it, you are an advertiser. Many of the Influencers on social media are advertisers; once you come to that understanding there is no need for self-comparison.
Regardless of whether you are active on social media or not, we all have influence. You have influence when you take part in a conversation, you influence those you come into contact with by your energy and attitude, you have influence with how you choose to react to a situation, you have influence to choose kindness towards others and maybe more importantly but equally challenging towards yourself.
We cannot control the trends in society and social media but we have full control over our reaction and response and approach to them. I am writing this column in a bid to open up a conversation around kindness to us first and of course to others.
I would love to hear your thoughts on the subject, please do share them with me via direct message on Instagram.
* The author is a consultant and coach. Instagram handle: @miss_shefa, Website: missshefa.com
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