I’m just kidding. Old Harold does not know how to become an influencer. I guess to be an influencer, you have to influence someone to think or act in a way that you want or don’t want them to. In addition, to be successful you have to maintain your level of influence over as great a number of people as possible and ideally it will make you feel good, rich or both. As a kid fifty years ago, my influencers were family, friends, teachers, minister (when going to church), and select hockey, TV, movie and rock and roll stars. Other influencers of note were journalists and writers, but given my aversion to reading, I was resistant to their prose. Others might have been local, provincial, federal and foreign politicians, and the odd police or bylaw officer.
Back in the day, stars had influence due to their fame and cashed in through commercials or product endorsements. These days stars also seem to include those who are popular for being popular. They still, however, need an attractive force to draw and keep people coming back. People can pedal their good looks, talents, brains, unusual/interesting circumstances or be purveyors of good old-fashioned scams or illusions. Above all you need the chicken pecking for food or dog salivating at the dinner bell bursts of serotonin to flood your brains reward centre. Novels, two-hour movies, half-hour sitcoms and written media have been supplanted for many by pictures, short videos and soundbites that trigger, trigger, trigger your way into wasted bliss while snacking your way between meals. It bears remarkable resemblance to factory farming where animals are housed and fed with one goal in mind, to eat as much as they can to fatten up for slaughter while minimizing ‘wasteful’ activities.
Old Harold lives alone, has 4 TV’s, 3 computers, 2 cell phones, an iPad and a land line. This morning my iPhone let me know that last week I averaged 13 hours and 1 minute of screen time per day. My Charge 4 Fitbit also told me my step count rarely gets above 4000 per day and heart rate on a lethargic day never gets over 80. I have facebook, youtube, instagram, twitter and a newly acquired tiktok account, and I can spend hours flipping between these like I used to surf channels on TV. I don’t, however, have to slog through channels I pay for that are dedicated to crap I’ll never watch. I get to pick and choose the eye-candy I’m going to veg out to, and when I find something entertaining, I can drill down into the parent account to burn away hours. I’d been quite satisfied watching favorites on instagram and youtube, living my life through the camera lenses of a young couple sailing around the world (Sailing Uma) a young Iowa corn/soybean farmer (Cole the Cornstar), a world champion arm wrestler (Devin Larratt) and worlds strongest man/the mountain (Halfthor Bjornsson), but now with ticktok it’s like going from hits of red bull to crystal meth. Every 15 seconds…blam blam blam hit of serotonin after another with limitless people doing unlimited things to capture my attention. There are unlimited sweets in the candy shop, and it’s now apparent I have to become my own parent. The little guy on my shoulder has to stop watching the videos along with me, and say hay, those dishes aren’t going to wash themselves or maybe stop phoning Moe’s Pizza (best pizza in the tricounty area) and bust a move in the kitchen.
So maybe my path as an influencer is to not spawn other influencers, but to help others regain the values of slow media, just as others have helped people break their fast food addictions and regain their family and relationships with slow food. I will, however, keep tuning in to tiktok to keep tabs on the guy I found living in a shack just off the arctic ocean in Nunivit to make sure he’s OK.