The power of influencers

For anyone who’s read some of my increasing skepticism about social media, it’s probably no surprise that I sometimes roll my eyes at today’s use of the word “influencer.” But Instagram divas aside, there are certainly people who’ve had huge influence on my life and personality.

Earlier this week, one of my grandfathers would have had a birthday. Unfortunately, however, the summer of 2004 saw both my paternal and maternal grandpas die within two months of each other. Fifteen years later, some of my feelings about that period have evolved, and other memories remain vivid – with dates like this would-have-been birthday bringing the summer back into sharp focus.

Separately, this week also included conversations at work about how family members and family experiences shape who we are and how we act. The influence of family can be especially strong when we’re young – and speaking of young, I hope you enjoy the embarrassing photos I’ve included here.

In recognition of this week’s special date and its deep conversations – and also because everyone could probably use a break from my perhaps-too-preachy thoughts on addiction, elections, and the like – I thought I’d tell you about these two men and their influence on me. When I combine memories of them, I think they’ve had a big effect.

They’re at least partially responsible, for example, when it comes to my stubborn adherence to values and beliefs I believe are “right.” They’re probably also somewhat responsible for the times when I’m just plain stubborn.

My grandpas (including my surviving step-grandpa!) have also helped foster the drive I have to work really hard, and to do things well the first time. On the other hand, I also think of these guys when it comes to my perfectionism and/or when I’m frustrated with people who don’t do a job or task with all the effort and thoughtfulness I think it deserves.

I credit my grandpas for serving as examples of what it means to be honest, principled, and generous – and I hope I can walk in their footsteps here. At the same time, I’ve noticed it can be tough to have too-high expectations of others, and sometimes I wonder if that’s a lesson they took on board.

In other realms, I’ve been known to deliver a politics-related rant or two…and no matter what you think of mine, I feel confident saying the internet would have been an even louder, more blustery place if my Grandpa Barritt had known how to leverage this technology when it came to the many letters he sent politicians.

If you read this blog regularly, you’ve already met one of my grandmothers, and I’ve also written about the many ways we have of introducing or identifying ourselves. Today, I don’t have much more to add other than this: it can occasionally feel self-indulgent, but taking time to think about my personal influencers can help with self-awareness.
…And then comes the question of what to do with new awareness. Maybe There's More

One thought on “The power of influencers

  1. Stephanie

    Thank you Kelli. This made me feel emotional. I never met either Grandpa. I had one great influencer in my childhood beyond my mom and dad. She was my grandmother. My brother and I seem to still talk about her every time we see each other and she’s been gone over 30 years. She impacted us beyond words. Thanks for sharing.


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