july 5 . 2014

Influence, or, A Rant Against Social Media

John Maxwell states in The 21 Irrefutable Laws of Leadership that if you don’t have influence, you’re not a leader.
Maybe this falls into the “Duh Factor” for you, but for me, who considers myself to be a leader—not in title, but in calling—that thought has provoked more soul and mind wrestling than anything else has in a long time.

Am I am influencer?
Who am I influencing?
How would I even know if I’m being an influence?

I’ve noticed that our culture has begun to measure a person’s influence by followers and “likes”. I totally buy into this—if I discover a new and powerful voice through a book, blog, or ministry, I go to Twitter and see who that person is following and also who follows them.
This has been a great way to expose myself to good thinkers and deep writers and voices I would have been unaware of otherwise (So, thanks Twitter).


BUT I have to ask . . .

Is this really the best measure of influence?

Because I have a love-hate relationship with the culture’s emphasis dependence on social media. I love that it opens my eyes and mind wider and helps me stay in touch with those that I love but am far from. I hate that it portrays a false sense of reality. I hate that I have bought into the lie that says that the picture I took and posted was only good if I got a significant number of likes. I hate that I can unfollow someone if they make a statement that offends me.



Or if it is, it’s a very unhealthy way to do life. If I cut you out of my sphere simply because of an offensive statement or two, I would be called judgmental, an avoider, a prude, a close-minded person. So just because I choose to engage in this behavior online, where people may not pay that much attention, I think I can get away with it? Maybe you see what I post, disagree, and if you’re “bold”, you call me out on it in the comment section on Facebook and unleash a super “applicable and helpful” dialogue, that honestly you may or may not have the guts to say aloud or in person. And if you don’t make the comment on Facebook, you write about your opposing views on your blog, on your wall, or you block/unfollow me.

There is this uncomfortable tension I dance between: the frustration that our culture has become self-obsessed, hiding behind negativity on the internet because they wouldn’t say those thoughts to another’s face, that we use “Favorites” “Likes” “Shares” as a measuring stick for our impact and influence—

–and simultaneously, the appreciation for the opportunity I have to engage and interact with people I couldn’t otherwise in “real life.” It’s frustrating to be so reliant on Social Media and to simultaneously feel in bondage to it.
I long for REAL LIFE – persevering through a friendship where one hurt another’s feelings and you TALK about it, process through it, move through forgiveness and become stronger because of it.

Am I the only one that thinks this?
I digress.

I want to be an Influencing Leader because I want to be the best leader I can be. But if I only measure my effectiveness based on who reads my blog, who favorites my comments on Twitter, who makes an appreciative comment on IG, I’m missing out and I’m selling myself short. And one day if the internet crashes, I will be devastated because the perception of my realm that I have will crumble with it. Let’s be real, that won’t happen . . . but I am now moved to look critically at my core values and the choices I make to live them out.

I want to be known for the lives I impact, REAL lives, in the day-to-day, in my church, in my community, at work.

I want to know that I’m impacting a life because that person told me with THEIR words coming from THEIR mouths.

I want my life to reflect the value I place on human interaction through voice, facial expressions, hearing laughter, seeing smiles, wiping away tears, walking beside, sipping coffee near.

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