I remember the first time I ran into the word, “Influencers.”
Something about it provoked a reaction of distaste, this idea that some complete stranger expected to shape the minds, beliefs, development, and character of others simply because they spoke or wrote. And “they” had the right to speak because . . .
they were rich.
they had a million followers (how? why?).
they were a celebrity.
they knew how to write computer code (or said they did).
they sold ticky tacky home decor items.
they analyzed the “news.” or they presented the “news.”
they lip synced on cool music videos.
Influencers are everywhere, available to mold and guide our beliefs in everything from politics to our eating habits, and if we’re not careful, we’ll let complete strangers who have absolutely no interest in us, but every interest in promoting their own belief system and that of their corporate masters, to formulate the very core of our being.
(“Drink this!” “Wear that!” “Drive one of these!” “Treat people this way to get what you want!” “Vote!” “Hate him!” “Love her!” “Watch this show — smart people do!” “Match your artwork to your rug!” “Go to church!”)
Obviously, we are all influenced by somebody, or a series of somebodies. And when the people who influence us are good and right and true, honest and compassionate and generous, caring and thoughtful and wise (this kind of sounds like . . . good parents), then their influence inspires us to be better, wiser people.
The artwork, Light Reading, encourages us to read — read often, ask questions, think deeply — as we move forward in our lives to achieve not only knowledge, but the wisdom to use it. People who regularly read are less likely to be blindly influenced by media influencers, more likely to say,
“Hmm. That seems kind of simplistic. After listening to you, I don’t feel so much inspired as overwhelmed, so much hopeful as despairing, so much creative as kind of . . . unimportant in the light of all your glory and fame.”
When we are wise about choosing who influences us, we may find ourselves to be an influencer — ordinary, regular, normal, good — ourselves.
It’d be nice to have some good influencers out there.
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