An influencer is someone who, by definition, influences. To influence is to effect change. So when someone self appoints their job title as “Influencer”, you expect more than just a person who is paid to promote a myriad of brands and products.
Last week there was a staged failed coup on the Capitol in Washington DC, incited by words caught on camera by the 45th President of the United States because he, for the first time since the founding of this country refuses to peacefully transition power to the fairly elected President-Elect… Joe Biden. Congressmen hid while brainwashed conspiracy theorist white supremacists stormed into the capital building with zip ties, guns, and mace, eventually killing their own and bludgeoning a capital policeman to death. Since then the insurrectionists have been called what they are, domestic terrorists. They’ve been put on no-fly lists, caught by the FBI, turned in by family members, and publicly shamed for their terrorist behavior. There are more to be caught and hopefully, no more violence or bloodshed comes from this failed coup attempt… though sometimes I worry I am naively hopeful in these situations.
When it came time to post about these domestic terrorist actions online, many social media influencers were silent for days. Some still haven’t even spoken out about the events of January 6th, 2021. There are excuses like “I want my page to be a safe place from the world” to the unspoken fear of losing followers and therefore losing income… the excuses are worthless, pathetic, and worse, pandering. I’m not alone in being incredibly annoyed by this. Many influencers have been called upon by their followers to speak up and sadly… many of those who have spoken up have been sent vile vitriol from other domestic terrorist sympathizers.
It seems like a lose-lose situation, right?
When you choose to stay silent, you are on the side of the oppressors. When you choose not to educate yourself on current affairs and the echos they have from historical events of decades and centuries previous, you help pave the way for history to repeat itself. There also is no real way to claim you are uneducated in 2021 except by willful ignorance… because with a simple search you can either find educated people speaking on any topic or find articles and verified sources about the topic.
When we look back at historical events, we often ask ourselves “what would I do in that situation?” Its human nature to wonder and put yourself in the shoes of others. I’ve seen the events of the first week of 2021 compared to The French Revolution, but they’re nothing like that because that was a revolution of the starving poor on the elitist monarchy who refused to help them. No, the events of January 6th, 2021 were not a coup against the elite, but a coup against progress and equality and those who dare challenge hate woven into the fabric of our country. Indeed it was an echoing something closer to our current time… the years between World War One and World War Two… the years where Germany had a believed to be “fringe group” of racist fascist lunatics lead by the failed artist Adolf Hitler who staged a failed coup in November of 1923, wrote a famous book (Mein Kampf, 1925), and eventually gained enough power by emboldening his base that they infiltrated and took over the government. The rest is history. We know it well, we’ve studied it in school, and if we are good people the name Adolf Hitler makes us uncomfortable. If you’re like me, you study WWI and WWII in your free time. So when we really look at WWI and WWII, we see the lineup of events that 2015 to present are echoing of Nazi Germany under the failed leadership from the Nazi sympathizers in the White House. From failed coups to racist fascist fearmongering… history is repeating itself.
So who are you going to be when we look back at this time, happening right now, in history? It’s naive to chalk things up to looking back upon them and say things like “history will remember this poorly”… it takes away our power now.
We have power now and we need to use our power.
When you are blessed with an audience, be it 20 people or 5 million people, you’ve been given the power to influence. This power is something we all are not so lucky to have. This power is a gift. Some of us have smaller audiences and we take that risk daily, much to the loss of our follower count. Therefore if you have a large base and you only choose to use it to “influence” by selling hair-growing gummy vitamins or the latest fabulous fashion box subscription… can you even truly and honestly call yourself an influencer?
I’d argue that no, you don’t.
If you are too unwilling to speak up in times of crisis, to put your money where your mouth is, to lose followers, to lose income streams, because you’re sharing the… news. Then you shouldn’t get to say you have genuine and true influence because your influence is purchasable. Your influence is for sale only. Your influence is as good as the next check you get, not being an active participant in making the world better for our kids.
So if that’s what many influencers want… then call yourself what you are: a commercial, a direct salesperson… a paid spokesperson available to be purchased by the highest bidder.
If you cannot stand up for what is good and right in the world, condemn treasonous traitorous acts, share the news, and draw a line in the sand between yourself and neo-Nazi fascists then you don’t deserve the title of Influencer.
Untill then, we need to stop following paid salesmen and applaud true Influencers who do use their platforms to Influence for good and knowledge.