Joan Dorsey
Contributing columnist
I watched a documentary on my pay for TV subscription the other day; it was about an ill fated music event held in the Bahamas.
Fairly interesting, but nothing much else was on. However I was intrigued by what the people holding this event called “influencers.” People who, if they showed up for the event, would by just being there, bring lots of other people.
I grew up with people I would call influencers.
The first ones on the list were grandparents. They were unfiltered and would basically tell you how stupid your idea was, and that informing your parents was on their agenda.
Right along with grandparents was aunts and uncles. These kindly folks could make you feel comfortable enough to spill the beans about what sort of plans you were working on – because – well you thought they were cool. Possibly even hip. But alas, they too would divulge to your parents anything worth doing. The allegiance always went to the grownups. It was a club that couldn’t be broken.
As a last resort – maybe even a glimmer of hope that the item simmering in your brain would be allowed – you would casually mention it to your parents. They were the ultimate influencers. This could be
something as simple as, “I would like a pair of bell bottom pants that are 36 inches in the bottom bell part.”
The answer is of course “NO.” This would have been followed by, “If so and so jumped off a bridge, would you jump off a bridge too?” Mainly because I am afraid of heights and also because I can’t swim. End of discussion. Never mind that 36 inch bells would wrap around your legs as you walked causing you to trip off your platform shoes.
Our youth of today have “influencers.” I know this because I read it on the internet, and it is never wrong.
These are people making videos and blogs – giving their opinions and recommendations, as if they know you. But of course they don’t know you or the other thousand people of your age who they have as followers.
So they tell you must have brand x for your skin, or wear xyz clothes or draw your eyeliner on in such a fashion. Why, just why?
We all wanted to fit into the mold in middle school. Middle school kids are sheep. They seem to think as a mass, and behave as one. Usually by the time high school rolls around, kids were thinking on their own and peer pressure wasn’t as bad. Maybe I am wrong.
Influencers in high school were usually the sports jocks and sometimes the cheerleaders. Years later we would see the outwardly clean and wholesome bunch was just as bad as the rest of us, only better at disguising their faults.
Yet these influencers are actually influencing someone. The advertising people use them for sales. Sell the kids this eye makeup. Sell them this new game. Sell them almost anything.
Where do they get the money? From parents I guess. Parents who have no idea who is influencing their child, and as long as the child is quiet, many don’t seem to care.
We preach thinking for ourselves. We boast and scream for young women to be fierce and independent, but they are influenced by the latest clothing, shoes and looks.
So much for independent and fierce.
Influenced by people who don’t know them and are out to make money off their online presence.
I feel sorry for the kids who are relying on these people to be the ones who influence them. There is much to be said for breaking the mold and taking a step in the opposite direction.
Much to be said for standing out in the crowd rather than blending into the wallpaper.
Maybe these new free thinkers could even move away from home, pay their own bills (phones, etc.) and have their own self supporting lives.
It’s a thought.