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While there’s tendency to look at modern, IT-focused folks these days as something like minions, overly reliant on our smarter-than-us smartphones and losing the ability to think independently, the truth is humans have never been all that hard to persuade. We are easily influenced, and influencers have long been toying with our perceptions of ourselves and how we might ideally perceive ourselves. But while we may not be fully in charge of our own destiny, we can at least be alert enough to retain significant influence in deciding who we let influence us in the digital age.

 

Incognito by nature

 

Two years ago, the US government called on social media influencers to be more open about who they are and who their sponsors are. The relevant regulating board noted that “clarity counts” in its advice for the industry to self-regulate, calling into question vague attributions such as #collab, #ambassador or #spon. Yet the lack of clarity and anonymity of those posting messages provides them the cover of security when whistleblowing is called for – not to mention good old-fashioned privacy.

 

All’s Well that Ends Well

 

This play by William Shakespeare’s play includes the advice of one character to another that if you “eat, speak, and move, under the influence of the most receiv’d star” the chances of career advancement and steering clear of trouble are higher. But while a full fourth of the master wordsmith’s many plays include the word “influence”, rarely is the word presented in a positive context. “Influence” derives from the Latin words for “inflow”, and indeed in many ways being influenced is as natural as breathing. But we must be on guard. Cautionary tales abound, and the truism “buyer beware” retains significance in the digital era. Be mindful of the influence that blows your way, and be careful of what you take to be truth.

 

The Human & Digital Communications Agency

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