What Is An Influencer, Really?

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”


Jim Murray
Jim Murray
I have been a writer since the age of 14. I started writing short stories and poetry. From there I graduated to writing lyrics for various bands and composers and feature-length screenplays, two of which have been produced. I had a  20-year career in senior positions in Canadian and multi-national agencies and a second career, which began in 1989, (Onwords & Upwords Inc), as a strategic and creative resource. Early in 2020, I closed Onwords & Upwords and effectively retired. I am now actively engaged, through blogging and memes, in showcasing businesses that are part of the green revolution. I am also writing short stories which I will be marketing to film production companies. I live with my wife, Heather, in the beautiful Niagara Region of southern Ontario, after migrating from Toronto, where I spent most of my adult life.

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  1. Absolutely LOVE this, Jim. This line struck a bright chord. . . “that they pass through you like spirits flying low and some of them stick”. That is so spot on. ITs also nice to see you here, been awhile. Be well, and hope the PT lady isn’t treating you too bad. . . Cheers!

    • Thanks for the comment Aaron…Yeah I like this site a lot I try and read somebody different every day. The rehab has slowed down a bit. But my legs are getting stronger. Waiting to get into a program in January where I can go and work out omn some pretty amazing equipment at Brock University. In the meantime, jost laying low waiting out the plague. Still posting mainly on beBee.

  2. Well stated, Jim. I’ve always found the current “Influencer Culture” to be a bit strange. Not entirely unexpected, of course, when technology has made it so easy for anybody to get in front of everybody. But still strange nonetheless. To your point, the world is full of influences small and large. But for somebody to take on the moniker of an Influencer (often with a capital “I”) takes a special kind of confidence that I doubt I’ll ever possess. I certainly breathe, but I don’t ever call myself a Breather. I exist, but don’t call myself an Exister. So while I may very well influence somebody now and then, I’d be hard-pressed to own that as a title and call myself an Influencer.

    • Thanks for your inside, Randy.I agree. We are all influencers and we are all influenced. I have always found that words like Influencer and thought leader are not the kinds of words anyone would use to describe themselves. It seems pretentious in the extreme.

  3. After all, we are all influencers, and we do well to realize this.
    How decisive are we in our family and local context? How do the effects of our way of being spread? What is the extent of the repercussions, positive and negative?
    In any case, even the smallest impact can be decisive.
    However, I don’t believe the category’s supposed lack of depth. Few people are capable of gaining a large following without working hard, in the form of study, commitment, perseverance or consistency. Free success, born out of nothing, is very rare. And, on the other hand, the need for reference figures is human, and particularly understandable in a world of rapid changes and not very respectful, both of individuals and of the environment.
    As in all things, balance is needed: avoid being tempted to delegate the expression of one’s thoughts and creativity to others.
    Yes, we are all influencers. We perform small miracles every day, without recognizing them as such. We even manage to wreak havoc, which canonical influencers probably don’t. This too shows who it is to have a real impact on the world!
    This does not mean that we have to feel an epic burden every time we write a few words on the Internet, but there is always an implicit responsibility in the dissemination of ideas.

  4. Thanks for the comment. I find that the older I get and the more I am given to reflection, I start to see those influences more clearly. Mostly they are from the weirdest places. Like my son when he was very young. We were going somewhere when he announced he needed to go the the bathroom. I grumbled a bit as I unhooked him from his car seat, and he said to me…Dad…a poo is a poo. And I thought, wow, that is wisdom in its purest form.

    • Thanks Carolyn. Actually, every now and then you get a glimpse of the influence you have, in a comment or a post that someone else has done. I never go looking for that stuff but it’s nice when it happens.