Influence, Idolization and Idiots

This post is inspired by @jared_parmenter who has quickly become a trusted friend and colleague through social media networking. And no, I did not have to use a formula to determine whether or not he is an influential person I needed to follow.

An awkward and somewhat disappointing experience (as fresh and recent as of the date of this post) with one social media guru (who shall remain nameless) compelled Jared to share his quandary with me. I’ll skip the details but will instead rail against— I mean, cite some thoughts with respect to the title of this post.

Sympathy for the Devil? Not here.
From the perspective of someone who already has a hard time stomaching the perceived clout of social media evangelists (or socialebrities as @ChristinaKudym once coined in a tweet) I admit that I am somewhat biased (somewhat).

Having said that, here are my 2 cents:

  • Influence is largely a visceral experience that cannot be quantified.
    There. I said it. So can we stop hemming and hawing about whether or not we can measure it? What influences me to want to connect with and further nurture relations with a professional, colleague, educator, friend, etc. is not something that I look up and calculate. It’s typically driven by a combination of empirical assessment and instinct.
  • Admiration is healthy. However, admire the knowledge more than the person.
    We’ve all been in awe at some point over someone’s presentation or speech or whatever content they were sharing that made our eyes sparkle and that bulb light up in our head. Neat, huh? Well, the person who effectively delivered the insight(s) may be awesome, but what was our brain really after? Uh-huh.
  • Even the best of the highly educated, enlightened and amicable people are fallible and emotional.
    The road to hell is paved with social media gurus— I mean, half-hearted intentions. None of us are perfect, model social creatures. The collection of Shakespeare’s dramatic works portray the more sanguine human foibles that educate us to accepting our fallibility. So yes, even your most venerated guru will spit on your face if they’re feeling paranoid that day or cornered into a conundrum with the world’s microscope breathing right above them. Meh. We all get that way somehow.

There are many great shakers, movers and even influencers around. And to me, sharing and dialoguing with them are perhaps two of the most useful and gratifying experiences.

I don’t need a signed book, t-shirt or doll to make me fully appreciate the impact of experiencing their um so-called insights.

graphic sourced from

9 thoughts on “Influence, Idolization and Idiots

  1. Autom,

    One of the reasons I’ve come to appreciate your posts, tweets, and relationship in general is your continual interest in drawing in groups of like-minded people to interact together, based on similar interests and thought patterns, regardless of “influence”. That energy, along with the desire to open and honestly discuss, criticize, or question perceived authority, keep your messages positive and forward-thinking, even if the message is constructive criticism. That seems like the essence of social media to me – the attitude of inclusion which fosters both discussion and interaction. I wish I could say the same for every “social media guru/ninja/zombie” I’ve come across.

    Also very true about emotions affecting SM. I know I’m a victim of this too (although usually I just log off Twitter as opposed to doing something nasty and antisocial when annoyed) and it’s important to remember that the speed of what we can do with a single click these days often leads to hot-headed reactions. Maybe I’ll take an old-fashioned approach and write him a personal letter. =)

  2. Jared – your aim is true and your intentions quite admirable. But you may want to ask yourself why you’d bother explaining your position to someone who has randomly shut the door on you for no apparent reason. I for one would simply mosey on along and go “NEXT!” The choice is obviously yours but I just wanted to drench your thoughts with as much objectivity and detached reflection before you give in to an emotional impulse =)

  3. Hmm. A little late to this, but I think Jared is on the right path with the personal letter if a continuing relationship with the unnamed guru is of value. For me influence is a combination of personal connection / likeability + knowledge. If I don’t like you, you won’t influence me. If you dont have the knowledge you wont influence me. But as Autom points out, Gurus, while idolozed are human. They have moments which impact their likeability. If the previous relationship matters write the letter. If there *wasn’t* a previous relationship his / her next book for the knowledge and “Next”.

    It is a cautionary tale to the wanna be Gurus though hey?

  4. Jenn – cautionary would be one way to put essence, i thought it helpful to shift the focus on influence measurement as that topic tends to be distracting, almost misleading really.

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