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Jan 27, 2023

My New Goal: Become an Influencer

While the pay isn’t so good, the hours are flexible

By Ed Goldman

I’ve decided to become a professional influencer. The pay may not be much but thanks to social media’s 24-7 useless-news cycle, the hours seem pretty flexible.

That last part is an essential requirement for me. I just don’t feel very influential before 10 a.m. or before I have five cups of coffee, whichever comes first. Fortunately, my research into becoming an influencer reveals that the requirements are pretty negotiable. 

Edgy Cartoon

Influential Influenza

For example, if you’re a Kardashian, you apparently don’t need any particular talent or anything but a pass/fail grade point average. You just have to say your name is Kardashian. I think I can do that; but I won’t try it unless and until my claiming to be a distant cousin of Florida Governor Ron DeSantis makes my friends at the Biden Pickleball League take offense—or worse, take umbrage. Once octogenarians take umbrage, it’s only a matter of time before they take to torches and steel-toed walkers.

While I don’t hail from a long kind of influencers, I’m not sure there’d be a particular legacy advantage anyway. For example, you really don’t see Donald Trump, Jr. or his brother Eric following in the footsteps of their famous dad who, for a few years, managed to influence nearly half of the nation to lower their expectations, actual American values and intelligence quotients.

Instagram’s current Top Influencers include two Jenners (Kylie and Kendall), three Kardashians (Kourtney, Khloe and Kim), Selena Gomez, Ariana Grande, and Taylor Swift. Swift will probably write a song about it and within six-to-seven minutes, watch it go platinum and see herself nominated for song of the year, songwriter of the year, record of the year and employee of the month. 

Anyway, I’ve heard of most the people on that list. But of the top “Beauty Influencers”—Huda Kattan (who reportedly has 50.7 million followers); James Charles (22.8 million followers); Manny Gutierrez (4.0 million followers), and Jeffree Star (13.8 million followers)—I don’t recognize a single name. 

Same goes for the top Fashion & Style Influencers. Among them are Chiara Ferragni (27.5 million followers); Alexa Chung (5.3 million followers); Mariano di Vaio (6.8 million followers), and Gigi Hadid (74.9 million followers).

I also come up empty trying to place the top Food Influencers: Jamie Oliver (9.1 million followers); David Chang (1.7 million followers); and Salt Bae (43.3 million followers). Bae is a Turkish butcher whose real name is Nusret Gökçe and I think he was clever to rename himself as two recipe ingredients.

As for Lifestyle Influencers, we have Joanna Gaines (13.5 million followers); Rosanna Pansino (4.3 million followers); Lilly Singh (11.1 million followers), and Carlinhos Maia (24.7 million followers). 

I feel about these folks the way I feel about most of the “celebrities” whose birthdays are listed in my daily newspaper, to wit: Who the hell are these people? 

I’ll admit that if these “celebrities” were born in a decade slightly after or just before my own, their names might ring a bell, if not exactly provide a wake-up call. 

But since the “influencers” remain a mystery to me, I figure what have I got to lose? I’m as obscure as all of them and can also lay claim to a raft of followers, most of whom work for collection agencies or are trying to hail me on the freeway—not because they recognize me but because there’s a roll of paper towels in my trunk that’s unraveling into their lane.

Since the really good categories have already been taken, here are three new ones I thought might be a fit for me:

  1. TOP COLORED-PENCIL INFLUENCER. Since this column’s cartoonist, Edgy, and I share the same jammies, I thought I’d speak for both of us by saying that Cretacolor is our preferred provider, especially because the implements are packaged in a sleek silver aluminum box that could double as an extremely large cigarette case in a 1940s espionage film.
  2. TOP FRENCH TOAST INFLUENCER. This would be a self-referential influence since I make the best in-home French toast this side of my neighbor’s home. My secret recipe involves eggs and bread. Don’t get me started on being a Grilled-Cheese Sandwich Influencer.
  3. TOP AUTO MECHANIC DOUBLE-SPEAK INFLUENCER. Phil Syracopoulos has been a friend of mine since 1965 and moved back to his hometown of Akron, Ohio from Southern California some years ago. He once told me the be-all/end-all comment to make to a mechanic when you drop your car off is, “I think the problem may be the left rear axle.”

As you might have deduced, Phil, who’s a rare-book dealer, has about as much automotive knowhow as I do. Maybe even less if that’s humanly possible.

Still in all, he’s been a major influence on me.

Ed Goldman's column appears almost every Monday, Wednesday and Friday. A former daily columnist for the Sacramento Business Journal, as well as monthly columnist for Sacramento Magazine and Comstock’s Business Magazine, he’s the author of five books, two plays and one musical (so far).