Suddenly an Influencer — Why I Refuse to Become One
Nowadays, everybody on social media follows at least one influencer. An influencer can be a singer, an actor, a business guru, an Instagram model, or a motivational speaker. Others follow us and are influenced by us and our posts. Nevertheless, we do not have followers in big numbers, and we only influence our small circle of friends and family on our social media.
I used to be one of those people, I had less than 100 followers on Instagram, and I wasn't active on Twitter, TikTok or any other social media apps. I’m just your typical Joe. I won’t lie, I experimented with social media platforms to see if a post of mine would go viral and maybe become an actual influencer — but it never worked, and I was always just your a consumer rather than a creator.
Suddenly, I was thrown into a new world, a world that I’m still not familiar with, and it scares me a lot.
Let me be clear here, I’m not an influencer, and I will never become one. I’m just afraid that people will consider me one.
Clubhouse affected my life on social media
In late January, I got invited to join Clubhouse, the hottest social media app at the moment. Clubhouse allows you to join or create rooms to talk about various topics. Each room might have serious vibes or be just a room for a fun social gathering. People might even sing or play an online game on the social app.
On my first two days on the app, I was joining rooms to listen. Then I joined rooms on topics I was interested in, and I asked the moderators for a chance to speak.
It wasn’t short after my first speaking moment on the app; I walked into a social room of multiple Arabs talking in one of the rooms. We started talking to each other, and we founded our first social circle on the app.
Our rooms were open to the public to join in and start talking to us. Slowly our small social group started getting bigger and bigger, and we noticed that many of us had shared interests — We started to create rooms regarding topics we cared deeply about.
In my first month on Clubhouse, I discussed subjects that are dear to me. I discussed Arabic content online, social justice, indie music, and many other subjects. I talked with passion in these rooms and got to connect with others interested in these topics too.
Within the Arabic speaking world, I got to connect with many content creators, reporters, TV hosts, singers — basically, people who we consider influencers — Our newly formed friendship moved outside of Clubhouse to Instagram or Twitter too.
Currently, I’m a little bit shy of 5K followers on the new social media app and all of a sudden, everything I do or say on the app influences others. All of a sudden, people look at me as an influencer.
And I don’t like to be considered one at all!
I lost my freedom on Clubhouse
In my early days on the app, I used to jump in and out between different rooms on Clubhouse. Some of the topics or rooms I entered were very controversial and edgy. I had the freedom to stay in these rooms as a listener or participate in the discussion taking place in these rooms.
I also never filtered what I said on the social platform — I was me, and I shared my thoughts or opinions. I always mentioned that these are just my opinions and thoughts. I emphasized that my thoughts or opinions are not facts; they just present me.
People started to consider the number of followers I have as a credential.
With my increasing followers’ numbers, two incidents happened that somehow changed the way I interact with others on the social media platform now:
- People assumed I have a certain controversial opinion just because I was in a room discussing this point. Many people didn't even enter the room; they just saw me in the room and immediately fabricated my opinion in their heads.
- People shared my opinion as fact. We were once discussing vaccinations, and I mentioned that I personally, for some reason, feel more comfortable taking one brand of the COVID-19 vaccine over the other. Suddenly, people were sharing that I said that this vaccine is better than the other.
The two incidents happened within a week. Suddenly, I felt the power of influencing people — And I didn't want to influence people in matters I’m not an expert in.
“With great power comes great responsibility” — Uncle Ben
My freedom to answer a normal question with my opinion was drastically limited, and now I can’t even enter rooms just to listen or participate in controversial topics . People are looking up to me, and I don’t enjoy this attention.
The power of finding people who know, like, and trust you
Any online business guru will always tell you the importance of finding people online who know, like and trust you to sell them your services or product.
Even though the idea seemed logical for me, I never really understood the power of finding people who know, like, and trust you.
Strangers over social media started to know, like and trust me now. All of a sudden, my recommendation or opinion has an impact that I can feel. I'm not too fond of this power, to be honest, but I guess it comes with having a following.
Nowadays, I carefully consider every recommendation I give.
To give you an example: I walked into a Clubhouse room last week just to listen. The moment I went in, people started talking about me, they asked me to join the discussion, and they immediately gave me “moderations powers” in this room — One of them even said: I can’t believe you are with us today. And this is what I struggle with at the moment.
P.S.: Moderators on Clubhouse have the powers to control the discussion. However, currently, it is wrongly used (in my opinion) to show appreciation or admiration to people on Clubhouse.
I do not want to be an influencer, but my recent journey on Clubhouse made me one (in some sort). Now, I’m somehow under the spotlight, and it is somehow weird to me.
I, now, go live on Instagram to talk to some of the new people I met over Clubhouse. I enjoy creating events on Clubhouse to talk about important topics to me. I enjoy networking and building a digital family with my new “family” online. However, I don't particularly appreciate being treated as an influencer though. I’m still just the old me.
So, If we got to meet over social media anytime soon, remember, I’m not an influencer — I’m just the good old Walid.