So, Influence Me Already

I was talking with someone recently, and they told me their daughter had recently moved to Los Angeles with her boyfriend.

“Oh, really?” I said. “What will they do for work?”

He told me the boyfriend works from home and home can be anywhere. As for the daughter: “She wants to be an Instagram Influencer.”

I acted appropriately surprised and impressed. I left out the confused until I ended the call. Then I asked Jen, “What the hell is an Instagram influencer?” Jen, while legitimately a Baby Boomer, is much more with it than me, as indicated by the fact that I used the phrase with it. I’m reminded of the Progressive commercial in which the man is trying to help the people to not turn into their parents. Don’t call television shows PROGRAMS and don’t say the words WITH IT.

Being an “Influencer” by profession is something I hear more and more these days. Hearing about it more and more doesn’t seem to make it any clearer to this Baby Boomer, who decidedly ISN’T a social media Influencer. I’m pretty sure I haven’t influenced any one of my readers to do a single thing.

Jen explained to me that a social media Influencer is someone who people follow on Instagram or other social media to learn how to dress or cook or buy appropriate toys for their children or purchase jewelry or figure out what foods are no longer acceptable to eat. Like gluten. Or cows’ milk. Or anything with eyes. (Every American pioneer is rolling in their graves as that’s how they sustained their families. Also, an Influencer would probably remind me the word pioneer is no longer politically correct.)

While I’m not an Influencer, I’m not reluctant to take advantage of the Influencers that Jen follows. When I was trying to figure out what color to paint our bedroom, I cleverly posed the question to Jen: What color should I paint our bedroom? She immediately began poking her iPad to find out what the Influencers’ thoughts were on bedroom colors. We seriously had my color picked out in 20 minutes or less. Whites are in; grays are out. The Influencers have spoken.

I don’t know exactly how one becomes an Influencer. I imagine you have to have several social media accounts. Instagram seems to be popular. I look at Instagram almost every day, though I rarely post. But since most of the people I follow are members of my family, I don’t find them to be Influencers (unless they’re trying to influence me to come to their house for dinner.) I did follow Kelly Clarkson for a while during the early quarantine years, but frankly got tired of seeing her without makeup and telling me how cozy it was living in their Montana cabin. Especially since she announced her divorce a few months later. A little too cozy perhaps, so it didn’t influence me. And I’m glad she’s using mascara again.

I get a weekly email from a blogger I used to like. I say “used to” because she picked up that blogging is so 2000-ish and now she mostly posts on Instagram and has a podcast. I’m not interesting enough to post on Instagram and Lord have mercy if I ever tried diving into podcasting. But I am glad she is willing to send out a weekly email with fashion suggestions to people like me. And I will admit that — while I never put a name to it — I have been influenced by her suggestions. I’m such a simpleton, however, that it never occurred to me that the companies were paying her to show me and others cute clothes. I just thought she was being nice to me.

I wonder if teachers still ask their first-grade students what their moms and dads do for a living. My mom’s a doctor. My dad’s a construction worker. My dad’s a lawyer. My mom’s an Influencer. Hmmmm.

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