Thursday, March 13, 2014

The Sphere of Influence:

Hello All,

Today I'm procrastinating heavily from working on an article for Hijacked Magazine ( I'm also holed up from a fr-eeesh autumnal wind outside with a hot water bottle, tea and my onesie on. TBH I think this thing's beginning to graft to my skin... Anyway, while writing I started to think about other things, one being that I've made a LOT of mistakes in my short 21 years on the planet, and maybe I don't have a fantastic sphere of influence, but I do believe that it's better to make your mistakes young and 'unknown' rather than later in life when your role in the world can affect more people.

The 'sphere of influence' is a term usually associated with big businesses or entire countries (I'm looking at you USA) however I think it also applies to people; as a collective and a singular - especially in todays hyper-connected world.

Your 'sphere of influence' includes the people you associate with; i.e. friends, family, facebook acquaintances, the guy you always see on the train home from work, and others. If you are a blogger, CEO, youtube personality, teacher, politician, celebrity, or someone who just tweets a hell of a lot your personal sphere of influence will naturally expand to include more and more people.

How you influence others is dependant of what you say and do. Think about how many times you've wanted something a particular favourite celebrity or writer, or as is more likely today Youtube guru, has raved about. I know I personally want to buy a shit-tonne of make-up that is in no way cruelty-free, despite being a committed vegetarian, purely because it looks excellent on my favourite Youtubers.

Humans are naturally social creatures, and because of this we group together and conform to one anothers standards of life. Have you ever heard the saying 'you become the six people you spend the most time with?' no, well...have you ever share-housed? I have. I've lived in three different share-houses, and though my core beliefs and the 'who' of me never changed, a lot of other things did based on the people I lived and hung out with:

I'm ready to fully admit that my style is mostly influenced by my friends, if I see them wearing something great I generally want it. This is a combination of influence and a need for social ties, as well as the fact that we have certain things in common - this is usually what attracts friendships between people in the first place. Now, imagine that on a grander scale. Imagine an extra hundred - or million - people liking you and appreciating something about you that makes them trust your instincts and copy them. What does that lead to? I'll tell you what it leads to, a real trend in girls obsessions with MAC lipsticks or onesies.

The idea of 'trending' is a great example of this kind of sphere of influence. Sure, if people don't actually like the 'trend' they probably won't buy into it, but a lot of people WILL like it - why do you think mass-production worked so well? It's because humans have similar tastes and interests. There's 9 billion of us on Earth and we stick together like glue.

I've been thinking about the idea of the 'sphere of influence' a lot recently, why? Because I find myself influenced daily. Everyone does. But do we always recognise it? I doubt it. Also, we can be influenced in such a way that despite recognising it, we don't really care.

A large amount of influence is material, and that's why it's important to watch what we expose ourselves to. I find myself creatively and intellectually stimulated after watching a Vlogbrothers video, and more sartorially stimulated after reading my favourite fashion blog.

(On a highly different note, while watching the Olympics recently I've found myself CRAVING BLOOD. Not like a Vampire, just like...why haven't I seen a knee blow out yet? C'mon Olympics, Russia versed the USA in Hockey and everyone kept their teeth. That's just bullshit.)

This kind of influence is known as conformity. Ever since the advent of counter-culture 'conformity' has become a bit of a dirty word. But truly, we're all conformists: We all change in accordance to new information which is generally supplied by other people. Trying 'not' to be a conformist is a bit moot. The important thing is to CHOOSE what you're conforming to, rather than blindly following things without much education about what's behind your choices.

It's important to remember your actions count and you have a sphere of influence, just like the CEO of Commonwealth Bank or the Prime Minister of the UK. Your habits influence others. In this day and age we are basically walking advertisements for our beliefs and the old adage is true, actions speak louder than words.

Luckily,  the majority of my lifetime of weird and embarrassing mistakes hasn't been broadcasted across the universe via the world wide web. Although, some have - like all those passed-out-on-the-ground pictures from high-school currently on FB and instagram.

My sphere of influence has always been small, but it's growing. It grows with the more articles I publish, the more friends I make, blog posts and Youtube videos I make, so it's important to watch what information I'm putting out there because the possibility of building a trusting rapport with viewers/readers is very real. My choices can, and have, influenced others.

Xo, Ellen