Just about every human on this planet, especially those of us with access to resources like the internet and social media has influence. Regardless of our formal titles, most of us have an audience of people who care about what we think and who look to us to educate, entertain, and inform them about things that they wouldn’t otherwise know about.
Sometimes it’s in the form of rants that we share on our private Facebook pages. Other times it’s through memes on Instagram with political undertones. Maybe it’s the selfie we post after we vote, or a repost of a video explaining a complex idea through animation or video. For some folks, the interactions they have with us, no matter how trivial it may seem, is the primary way they find out information.
There are some folks who follow you who never read the New York Times.
You might be the only person of your background that someone is friends with.
Those likes on your Instagram pictures, and comments under Facebook posts by people you’ve never met in real life but someone became connected through friends of friends of friends aren’t because people are nice and don’t want you to feel bad. It’s because you are a creator, a connector, an informer, and they value what you bring to them.
With that, every once in awhile, besides the recipe videos and coffee memes—how about sharing some of the causes that are important to you? Gently encourage your audience to be more loving, more open, and more understanding.
Use your influence to ignite people to do things or to act in ways that will make this world a better place.
I know it can be difficult to know where to start. Like, can’t we all just get along? Well, no. We can not all just get along. We aren’t all getting along. If you have a strong opinion and accurate information about a cause that’s important to you, just say it.
Pardon the interruption, but the Flint water crisis is not over. There are still thousands of families who are without clean drinking water or water to bathe, including children.
Okay, y’all. I need help figuring out which dress to wear to my high school reunion. First I need to inform you that there are still babies who were separated from their parents at the border, and they still have not been reunited, and in some cases, there is no way to even FIND their parents.
And now back to our regularly scheduled program.
See? That was easy.
Don’t overthink it. Your message doesn’t have to be packaged in sequins and glitter, or coupled with the perfect Instagram photo. Just say what you have to say. Period.
Here’s what else you can do:
Be open to hearing the stories of folks who don’t look like you. Share those stories. Be a moderator for open dialogue. Help educate the masses.
Hold your friends and family accountable. Call them out if they say something that’s inaccurate or hateful. It might be uncomfortable at first, but it gets easier the more you do it.
Share your story. Be honest and transparent. In between the funny memes and silly quizzes, give a glimpse into what life is like for you and your family. Talk about where you came from and what things were like for you growing up. Tell us about your beliefs and what you stand for. If you really want to affect change and encourage acceptance, let people into your life, and use that storytelling as a springboard to foster understanding and awareness with the people who follow you.
We are all living in this world together, y’all. Americans. Humans. We have all of this influence, so let’s use it for good. Let us be the change.