I once thought myself a strong woman capable of independent thoughts and not easily swayed by the influence of those around me. I was happy to swim against the stream and enjoyed being oblivious to the latest fads and trends. I was never a follower. And then somewhere around circa 2010 I joined Instagram. 

 It started off innocently enough – a platform to share photos of random amusements like the latest Texas music artist I was seeing live, the cucumber jalapeno margarita I was enjoying, and vacation pics with the family. It was a fun way to keep up with friends near and far. Fast forward to now and while I do still see the occasional post or story from friends and family, the majority of my feed is full of people I don’t even know (but am certain I’d be BFFs with if our paths ever crossed). People like my favorite authors, athletes, artists and podcast hosts. Then there are the non-celebs – though “instafamous” – folk who share the same interests as I do like CrossFit, keto, aging backwards, and fashion for the over 40 crowd – people who have amassed quite the following as experts in their insta-niche communities. For someone who never was a follower, I sure find myself following a lot of people these days. 

But beyond the following, these strangers who I find myself interacting with almost daily, possess some voodoo magic that can convince me to buy just about anything they are selling. And they are always selling. I mean, they are called influencers for a reason. From cookbooks and clothing to makeup and mushroom coffee, I’ve tried it all, just because a stranger convinced me I needed it. 

And it appears I’m not alone, according to Digital Marketing Institute, 49% of consumers depend on influencer recommendations. In fact, the Influencer Marketing industry is set to grow to approximately $21.1 Billion in 2023. (I believe I have contributed at least a percent of that total on skincare products alone.)  

I’m not proud of the fact that I so easily get sucked into the hype. (And I am supposed to be in the demographic that’s not easily persuaded by influencers!) Did I really need to spend over $100 on plastic bangles I can swim in? (I’ve never worn them to one pool/beach.) And, while I think my Stanley 40oz quencher is darling (it’s pink!) I hardly ever carry it because let’s be honest here, 40 ounces of any beverage gets heavy and becomes cumbersome to carry around. (Unless it’s in a can!  Amiright?) I think I much preferred the good ol’ days when I was not aware of the latest fashions and trends. You don’t know what you don’t know right? But now I’m immersed in it, invite it into my space even, and I have found that I’m more of a sheep than I once thought. 

So, for all the influencers out there – and there are more than 50 million people around the world who now consider themselves to be influencers according to Forbes magazine – you are welcome. I hope you get to retire early on your earnings. Because if you keep doing your job, I’ll likely have to keep working past retirement.