Well, okay, truth? I have no idea. No. Wait, yes I do. Stay tuned.
Yesterday I spent the entire day holed up mostly alone, but with staff, here at the lovely Researcher’s Rest B and B which is nestled into a crowded community in Arusha, Tanzania. The original owners, two British women with a penchant for botany (thank you, ladies) and adventure, built this gracious place long before Arusha became adventure travel central in this African nation. My safari operator eTrip Africa was renting here, then took the place over when the ladies passed on.
The staff have been treating me like royalty; Eddie, the cherubic-faced cook, is such a fine chef that the meal he made for me last night actually made me weep. That’s another story. This is about becoming an Influencer.
So you wanna be an Influencer, right? Let’s parce that out. First, why?
Third, Why the hell do you want to be an Influencer?
The reason I am getting in your face at three-thirty local time is this: unless you are perfectly clean about your morals, values and what you think you want, then becoming a so-called Influencer might not be a particularly good idea. If I may.
I got two emails in twenty-four hours from two women whom I respect a lot: Penny Nelson and Nalini MacNab. Both of them told me, each in her own way, that over the course of time they have been moved to start taking better care of their health, at least marginally as a result of reading my articles.
Along the way I have sold no programs, no products, I make no income off affiliate marketing, I don’t have an income-producing website (yet). However, two people let me know that as a result of my writing about healthy habits as we age, they are starting to make far better choices about their own bodies.
I did not monetize these women. No big company like Kraft or Peloton underwrites my work. Kindly. All I do is write about my life, highlight excellent material from other people whose work inspires and influences me, and do my level best to share and provide good science and articles from better writers to make my points.
Implicit in that last paragraph is that there are plenty of writers on Medium whose work influences me, and because of that I share their stuff to Dear Reader.
In the last few years, there have been both a rise and fall of the Influencer, capital “I,” with the emphasis on fall. Thanks to smart writers like Gillian Sisley and others who have done an excellent job of peeling back the bullshit peddled by Very Bad People like Rachel Hollis and other abject liars and plagiarists, we start to see what those cretins are really like. They are all about the money at all costs, a compulsion which has spread through Medium like the Delta variant on steroids.
Interestingly I am far more influenced by Sisley’s writing than Hollis’ posturing. Hollis is a bottom feeder. But she makes and continues to make money off being a bottom feeder. She’s hardly alone. Mostly White, young and privileged, one Influencer after another made the mindless mistake of showing the shit stains in their undies when Covid hit. All I can say is good riddance. Because when things got rough, that’s when their value set showed.
They don’t care about you and me any more than Elon Musk and Jeff Bezos gives a flying f — — about us or planet Earth as they took off in a penis-driven race through space garbage for bragging rights. Rich White Male sky god bullswockey.
And millions of stupid people celebrated that.
Those corporations which had pinned their sales hopes on their “Influencers” got their reputations in a twist. Not a good look. Those corporations are starting to think twice about backing the bull peddled by people whose carefully curated and dishonest lives are supposed to represent their brands. Good. Because when you back a liar like Rachel Hollis, the bowel movements she sells get smeared all over your pretty packaging.
So I ask you. Why do you want to be an Influencer?
Because if your true motives have far more to do with a deep-seated insecurity, the desperate need to tell others how to live their lives largely because yours is such an unholy mess and on top of all that, an unfortunate belief that people are sheeple who deserved to be fleeced, well. Join the club. There are a lot of folks just like that all over Medium, social media in general, and most assuredly throughout business.
I sure don’t, not in that regard. Here’s what I do care about, and why I am getting emails from people whose lives I bloody well care about,and whose comments about the choices they are making make my day over here in Africa.
I’ve spent my entire career, starting in the Army, supporting women and diverse populations. Their businesses, diversity in those businesses, their success. I really truly care about whether or not folks succeed. When women succeed, when men who have a goddess voice in them succeed, the world heals. When we compete with each other for scraps, we support racism, White Supremacy, the Patriarchy, and we support the raping of our world at large.
When we collaborate, connect, and uplift each other, that is goddess work.
REAL goddess work, having nothing whatsoever to do with a slim waist, a sweet ass, perfect skin and a yellow diamond around your neck like Beyonce (with thanks to Rebecca Stevens A.)
REAL goddess work is laughing in the face of adversity and never ever ever minding what Nature does to our aging bodies. REAL goddess work is caring enough about the world and each other that we don’t stoop to attacking each other through patently dishonest movements like the so-called “body positive” trend which is in so many cases a PR program to allow big folks to attack their fellow big folks who want to get healthier (with thanks to Lorrae G.)
REAL goddess work is letting go of the need to be superior, the compulsion to judge, the propensity to attack and hate each other over perceived advantages.
REAL goddess work is above all and without remorse but with a massive sense of humor, owning our shit. Because the ability to do that, to do it publicly, to pick ourselves up no matter what happens, is the greatest teacher ever. It’s not about who has the most toys or the most money. If that is what makes you wanna be an Influencer, I have a four-letter word for you. Hint: it’s not N-I-C-E.
That makes you and me part of the problem, not part of the cure. We have developed into a nation of parasites, all of us feeding off each other for money, to get contracts from big companies to sell their junk, no matter how dishonest the product (Weight Watchers) or how fundamentally bad the science is (see just about anything from Goop).
So, that’s why I asked.
Why do you think you wanna be an Influencer?
Look. I have bills to pay, so when my Medium income takes a hit, as it did this month, that’s hard on me as a disabled veteran. Of course I care if people read and like my stuff. That said, I will not stoop to click bait, nor will I stoop to peddling outrage (although I am subject to the occasional stupid bubble as are we all), and I will not stoop to schemes to sell stupid crap to pay my mortgage. Because none of that is goddess work. It’s parasitic.
What is not parasitic is consistently writing with the intent to serve. While my stats matter, they aren’t my lifeblood. What is my lifeblood consists in large part are the comments and highlights that feed me daily. Those messages, both public and private, that say we see you, we hear you, what you do matters. You cannot put a price on such material, for that, folks, is the food of the gods.
That is earned.
If there is a way to become a legitimate influencer, and please note the lack of the capital “I,” it’s being breathtakingly honest, speaking your truth, telling your story without angling it to suck pennies out of people’s piggy banks. The way I see it, income will ebb and flow. What is consistent in life is caring. Care about people, write like you care about people, show that you care about people, you build community. Communities support each other.
If you regularly read John DeVore, you can see what a solidly good man with a powerful goddess voice sounds like. John battles alcoholism, is brutally honest about it, vulnerable and funny and open and smart. That’s influential. Buy him coffee, why don’tcha. Oh, and he writes great reviews, too.
I get supportive comments all the time. More than the end of month statement from Stripe, that is what feeds the furnace of my writing. Folks remind me that they lean on my work, read my stuff, I make them laugh, remind them that they are worth loving and caring for. For me, that is goddess work. And on days when I screw up, and boy do I, those same people remind me that I do good work, and that is what gets my aging raggedy ass back up again.
It’s my consistent experience from my readers that it’s not so much the badass life I live, or try to live, but the willingness to take chances, own my shit publicly, learn from it and allow people to witness the failures in my life-which are numerous and spectacular- which make me far more influential than any made up story about Living the Dream.
I appreciate the income. I value the fact that I can get money from Dear Reader via their eyeballs on my stuff. But I am buoyed far more by a private message from Marley K. like I got today checking in on me, and from people who appreciate my private grammar checks, those who want to make sure I’m doing okay.
If you have to have a dollar value attached to every single communication, you are a parasite.
That’s not influencing. That’s sucking the life out of every living being. It’s turning our inherent, sacred humanity into nothing more than White Man’s Business As Usual, which is how we got the world we have right now.
Goddess work is centered in service. Giving. Finding ways to uplift.
I fall down at this regularly. We’re supposed to. That’s how those who choose goddess work are useful. The shitstorms we go through,the failures we endure are precisely what make us useful to others. The great enduring dishonesty of the Infuencer is that their lives are easy, perfect, effortless.
Kindly, not only is that a bald-faced lie, I wouldn’t want that life. You live a gilded life, you aren’t living. You end up being threatened by everything, living in abject fear, and hating anything and everything which jiggles your (imaginary) perfect world.
My perfect world is battered regularly. That’s what makes my life interesting, that’s what makes me strong, and above all, it’s what gives me my comedy material. All I gotta do for a damned good laugh is walk into the bathroom and take my teeth out, the result of forty years of eating disorders, which are the result of multiple rapes, incest and bad men. Not all men, just the ones who were bad.
If you can’t find the funny in that, stay in bed. Goddess work is finding the funny no matter what happens. Of course it’s hard. Sometimes it’s nearly impossible. That’s why it’s called goddess work. There is no Staples easy button to this.
Me, I got one more day of resting and writing, then I am back into the mountains, chasing wildlife, living out on the edge. Getting bruised, broken, falling down, screwing up and finding my way.
I don’t want people to live my life. I want everyone to live theirs, but better, and on their terms. Strong bodies, strong minds, strong will, and a flexible funny bone.
That’s goddess work. If that influences people to do their own, then so be it. There’s no monetary value attached to that other than the few bucks a story will earn over its lifetime. Nothing I ever wrote went viral. And I don’t give a rat’s ass. For when I start concentrating on Writing the Viral Story as opposed to caring about whether or not my messages are doing the work I came here to do, I become that c-word.
Because genuine, caring work is both sacred and priceless. That’s where I get paid.