The Power Of Influence

The Power Of Influence

FTC Mag guest contributor Nirmal Thakur talks about life in the digital age, social media and the sheer Power of Influence.

“The way to grow your power is to give it away.” - Carla Harris

What Carla Harris, an author and Ted speaker describes, holds incredible significance with the power and influence certain people hold, especially in the realm of Social Media today. Harris further adds “If you have a seat at the table, you have a responsibility to speak, If somebody is worthy of your currency, spend it”.

This, in a sense, also reminds me of the famous dialogue from the movie ‘Spiderman’ – “With great power comes great responsibility”.

What all this means, when we look at it from the specific context of social media, is its immense influence on culture and community, along with the pivotal role individuals with a standing on these social media platforms play with their “Power of Influence”.

This power of influence (POI) refers to any individual whose impact on the community is not bound to the number of followers but to the positive and constructive effect it may, and can have, on those followers. It also means that one grows consistently when they help others grow as well by sharing their power - in the context of social media, when people use their influence to empower individuals and communities.

However, it is also unfortunately true that many a times, those with such influence end up living in an abstract reality, a reality where they tend to get carried away and not fully realise their true potential to give back, make an impact and help change lives for the better.

Quite often, people with a large amount of followers may live in the bubble of a make-believe world due to the constant adulation and admiration they receive from their followers. While the responsibility of such content creators is, to some extent, be more real, relatable, and motivating in a way, unfortunately in most scenarios this is not the case.

People with the POI end up sharing stories that in the long run are trivial, frivolous and just another 9x16 frame wasted on mundane content. Don’t get me wrong, I am not against this in any way - everyone has the right to use their social media account to portray whatever they may be so inclined to, but with a platform and reach that is vast, there needs to be a balance.

Along with entertaining one’s audience, it would do wonders if your audience could also be empowered and educated from time to time through common social media parlance as well. This brings me back to the quote I mentioned in the beginning by Carla Harris, “The way to grow your power is to give it away.”

If more “influencers” use their platform to highlight the unsung heroes of the community through shoutouts and sharing their work, this would not only make them feel valued and acknowledged but in turn also garner a band of loyal followers and admirers for the person with POI as well.

Social Media for me personally is a very powerful tool which I use to get inspired and also serves as a sort of virtual reality check – things I should do and be versus things I shouldn’t be and definitely avoid. Many of my peers blatantly disown social media citing reasons such as it being a waste of time or for someone not serious about or focused in life. I beg to differ here, for I am someone who does not maintain any duality in life, I am what I am in real and reel life both and my content aims at inspiring people to lead a meaningful and mindful life.

I would like to cite an example here which had a huge impact on me personally. A few years ago, a Pakistani follower of mine, messaged me stating that due to my platform and content he had once again started loving life after going through a phase where he would contemplate suicide all the time. The fact that he reached out to me and said that my outlook on life that is evident through my social had a powerful impact on him was a huge turning point for me as I realised that unknowingly and unwantedly I had influenced someone’s life.

Additionally, I was recently speaking to a stylist friend of mine who happened to mention that because of the workout routines I post on my stories, she was motivated to spend 30 minutes of her day to actively exercise and workout.

Imagine that! The sheer power Social Media and this Power of Influence have in today’s world. We tend to forget that, our actions if conducted mindfully and conscientiously can inspire someone that we might not even be aware of.

Wanting to ensure that my followers get an impactful takeaway where they can question things, become more mindful and aware is the precipice for what my personal platform stands for. It was sometime around August 2020 that I realised just how full India is of immense talent that is just waiting to be explored, heard and have their stories told.

Unfortunately, mainstream and digital media were severely lacking in providing such a platform for these lesser known young creatives to be uplifted. While certain media platforms and communities were highlighting stories of talents, they were usually the ones who already had amassed a certain popularity or following making the prevalent notion clear “People won’t support you until it is popular to support you”.

I realised, rather than relying or depending on any independent media, I would use my own platform to highlight these stories of talent that deserve to have their moment in the sun. I am a strong believer of the idea that we are all a bundle of stories who can feel and emote, so before featuring any talent, I speak to them for few weeks, and build a personal as well as emotional rapport. I ensure that I build a relationship that is authentic and meaningful and even after featuring these talents, I continue having a conversation and relation with them with this thought - if I can be of any little help personally, I shall do my bit.

Some of the finest examples that I can think of, where social media platform has been used in most effective and powerful way to engage ones POI are individuals like Malhar Kalambe, all of 23, who is a UN award recipient for his dedicated effort to the ecosystem and environment of Mumbai beaches and rivers, He started a using his POI to form a community that collectively uses their resources to clean the beaches and river of Mumbai.

He started a community called Beach Please India a few years back with the simple intention of having a plastic and garbage free beaches in Mumbai. What started with only a few of his friends has now become an influentially large figure with his story being covered by platforms such as National Geographic and other media outlets as well.

Anam Hashim is another outstanding example. A young girl from Pune, in her early 20s, Anam left her family to fulfil her dream of being a Stunt Biker. Coming from a conservative muslim family where young women are often expected to be in “Parda”, get married and raise a family of their own, Anam as of today is one of the most influential girls who is in turn inspiring other women to follow their passion and believe in themselves. She broke the barrier and paved the way for girls not just from her community but all the girls and boys to follow their dreams and never give up.

It is clear that the Social Media influencers/personalities of today are the new celebrity icons of today. They hold as much power, if not more, than what celebrities and famous personalities back in the 80’s and 90’s had over the masses. Another great example for this statement is none other than the recent farmer protests in India and how a mere tweet by activist Greta Thunberg caught the attention of the entire world, all the way from the other side of the globe.

The impact of this statement was so powerful that even the Government of India was forced to respond! Today, we are witnessing a new wave of icons and stars who might not be on page 3 or featured on billboards, but instead, are right at the palm of our hands, accessible with a single tap, swipe, like and follow. Social media is what a pen used to be and it is definitively mightier than the sword - provided how and why you use it.

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