Blue Heron in flight

Wednesday, September 29, 2021


We need money. We need hits. Hits bring money, money bring power, power bring fame, fame change the game. Young Thug

I wanted to write something about this relatively new phenomenon of humans called influencers. Like a lot of other things that have arisen in this brave new world of ours, I don't really get the whole thing. Although some of the people that have been given the sobriquet are talented, it is certainly not a pre-requisite.

What is an influencer? I decided to look the term up and found various vague definitions. 

An influencer is an individual who has the power to affect purchase decisions of others because of his/her authority...

Influencers are someone (or something) with the power to affect the buying habits or quantifiable actions of others by uploading some form of original—often sponsored—content to social media platforms like Instagram, YouTube, Snapchat or other online channels.

They are experts within a specific community who endorse or review products, software, or even thoughts within their field of expertise. Others in the community look to them when making their own purchasing choices.

There are many more definitions but I think you get the idea. If I have this straight, basically an influencer is a person with an outsized presence on social media that can convince other people to buy a product of some kind. They are cool people that other less than cool people want to follow around in case it will rub off. 

Here are the top ten non celebrity influencers in my area and maybe ten biggest nationally or in the galaxy, I forget which. People who have become famous for being famous.

It is obvious that we are going through a horrible bottom stage of some cosmic Kali Yuga right now, hence the popularity of Kanye, Real Housewives, Kardashians, etc. You would like to think that this is the nadir but you are always wrong when you make bets that things can't get any worse, so I won't.

Stupid and vapid is winning bigly and I guess it was their turn. But I still wanted to make a few comments about the influencer thing. We had a power influencer couple around the joint in Santa Fe. Young, slick and inked, they had umpteen zillion followers and lots of people seemed to be trying to curry favor with them. But for what?

What had they ever accomplished besides being young and cool? I wish I had the answer but I don't. But they, or people like them, are obviously very important allies to have in the new scheme of things. In fact there is a new occupation now called YouTuber. I guess it can pay quite well. Get s sponsor, you no longer have to work, just perform daily.

These gigs can range from talented people like Xiaoma and Eric Rosen, who I follow, to the banal and idiotic. Like the people who have found their niche in life making reaction videos. Or the flute teacher who has to react to every Jethro Tull song.

One fellow gave me pause. He pretends that he is looking for violin lessons, is ostensibly a beginner. He has created a whole cottage industry of videos trying to prank legitimate teachers. 

Now I am not a violin player but I did play cello as a kid, not very well, mind you and I think this guy is god awful, basically unlistenable. And the part of the video where he says "I am a Youtuber" is seriously cringeworthy. Not, I play for the Portland Symphony but I am a YouTuber. So what? You suck. And the people you are patronizing and goofing on can probably play circles around you.

I am on the milkhorse of social media platforms, the incredibly antiquated blog. Nobody blogs anymore. The top San Diego influencer @mikey has 3.1 million followers. I have 32 at last count. If @mikey is a Lamborghini Countach, I am your family's rusted out Plymouth station wagon with the simulated wood paneling, sputtering and wheezing forward. And I am so down with that.

I don't tik tok or tweet or instagram or facebook, I plow my little literary furrow and go home when my day is done. At one time Google listed me as having had approximately 15 million tertiary views but now they have distilled the number to a brisk 3,623,294. I get read by somewhere between eight hundred and four thousand people on a normal day but have no idea how many of them were marooned on my blog while looking for their lost volleyball in cyberspace.

And that is plenty. I don't want to influence anybody because what the hell do I know that the rest of you don't know? Bupkis. Beware of those that are trying to sell you something and that use bubbly, effervescent sorts to help rope you in. You and I will never be that cool and I wouldn't bother trying.

Do something, climb a mountain, write a novel, discover a new element for the periodic charts. But don't put "he ruled tik tok" on your gravestone. Fame is fleeting.


Jon Harwood said...

We seem to descended a few rungs on the ladder since the Founders imagined citizens who would have enough Republican Virtue to rule themselves without the assistance of a King. The internet might turn out to be one of the colossal failures of history; an evolutionary misstep that helped amplify the power of ignorance to a species degrading force, as if we all grew antlers and then tried to get into the elevator.

island guy said...

The much smaller per cent age of early Americans who were eligible to vote had much more education than the average American of those days and probably a similar set of values to the constitution’s drafters.
From Wiki - 1780s. The Constitution of the United States grants the states the power to set voting requirements. Generally, states limited this right to property-owning or tax-paying white males (about 6% of the population). As far as influencers, I charge them extra when they ask for freebies.
More importantly, in my opinion, ideas and positions were vigorously and publicly debated. Give everyone the vote and make everyone defend their positions with more than sound bites and dog whistling - my opinion.

Blue Heron said...

Sounds very patrician and Hamiltonian. Do you think that voting should be reserved for a learned elite?

Ken Seals said...

Despite the efforts in school to teach critical thinking, young people (and some older ones) just don't think for themselves. Also, individualism is very limited these days.