Recently I was introduced to Klout.com, a site that measures your influence on a scale of 1-100 based on analysis of your various social media sites. Likes, comments, shares, tags… Klout uses them all to come up with a number that represents your influence (insert importance) in the information age. Let me start by saying that I think Klout is awesome. Being able to track which posts garner the most attention and gather data on millions of individuals is an amazing tool for tracking social trends and inter-connectivity. These type of data gathering and interpreting tools tell us a lot about our culture and are just super cool from a sociological/cultural psychological perspective. Here is the danger: influence becomes our idol.
You see the results of this everywhere. We are the generation that invented the Selfie. We have platforms to promote ourselves and use several of them daily. If you are not on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook (not to mention blogging), then you are not “connected.” I will not proceed to hammer the point home since I believe we are all aware of this phenomenon. There seems to be a massive disconnect here. Influence is and has always been a means to an end. When you seek to influence someone you are seeking to turn them towards something. If influence has become the goal instead of the means then we are making a big mistake. In our culture we often see this mistake in the realm of money. Money is a means to an end: it is for buying other things. In spite of this we often see people just gathering money for its own sake. There is a fascinating article on this very problem in scientific research vs. the promotion of the scienctist here: http://scholarlykitchen.sspnet.org/2014/05/01/altmetrics-mistaking-the-means-for-the-end/
So what is the end for which influence is the means? It seems to me that the goal of influence is to promote a message, idea, or person that will benefit the people we influence. As opposed to selfie-culture, we should be the people who are constantly promoting Love (capital “L” love). The person of Love, Jesus Christ, should be promoted in every forum of influence we have. Rather than the self-focus of raising our Klout score, we should have the other-focus of promoting the person of Christ. This does not mean mentioning Jesus in every post; however, this means crafting everything we write to reflect the Truth, the Love, the Way, the Life. Share things that intrigue you about nature, our culture, kittens, and the rest because God delights in the pleasures of His people. Just keep in mind that they are not contrary to what is noble, true, just, uplifting, etc. If your post serves no other purpose than to make you feel like you are liked or valued, or if you find yourself promoting discord or despair then reconsider. “It is not what goes into the man that defiles but what comes out of the man.” Words, pictures, posts have power. Everyone has some influence. As you build your network, as you interact with the world at large and even your semi-private world of friends and family, remember that it is not all about influence. It is about counting everything as nothing in comparison to the surpassing riches of knowing Christ Jesus (which would be a great thing to share with people don’t ya think?).
In a world where nearly everyone can have a voice, are you communicating something worth hearing or just shouting as loud as you can to be heard.