The influencer. A lot of people, especially around there here parts, would like to own that title for real.
In the classical sense, the influencer is the trendsetter, the style leader and the culture hero, and the big-time guru all rolled up into one. They also go by the title ‘thought leader’ which I have always found pretentious in the extreme.
But nobody really believes that anyone can be all those things. It’s just too much of a burden. You would be crushed under the weight of it if indeed you could pull it off at all.
So what does it really mean to be an influencer, and how does all that work?
All I can give you is my own take. As a writer, which I have been all my adult life, I have been influenced by many other writers, songwriters, poets, business people, politicians, friends, and enemies alike. But I never thought of their influence as being something that they were purposely trying to work on me.
I saw it as them simply being themselves, following their own muse, dreaming their own dreams, and actualizing their own reality.
One of the main influences and heroes for me as a writer is Bob Dylan. When I first started writing lyrics, I tried like crazy to make them sound Dylan-like but to no avail. No matter how hard I tried they still ended up just sounding like me.
But the act of trying was how I learned to write, and the volume of writing I did was how I understood and evolved as a writer to the point where I could actually craft a lyric that worked.
Later on in my life, in the late 1970s, I got a chance to spend some time with Bob Dylan all alone for about half an hour. (a whole other story). During the course of our conversation, I intimated to him that he was my biggest influences.
He kind of laughed and told me that influences are all around, that they pass through you like spirits flying low and some of them stick. It’s not like anybody’s trying to do that. It’s just what happens between the talker and the listener. You probably have a million influences that you don’t even know about. I know I do.
And that’s the thing. Influence is all around us. How influenced we really are is a matter of how receptive we are to all that free-floating stuff. The noise of the universe that seeps into your mind, and plants something there that grows.
So the reality is that everybody who does anything is an influencer to others who experience whatever that thing might be. And there are billions and billions of things.
So if you want to call yourself an influencer, go ahead, you’re more than free to do that.
But if you really want to be more accurate about it, you might want to have the handle “joyful noisemaker in the universe”