ARE YOU AN INFLUENCER OR JUST INFLUENCED, PART 2

Recently I wrote a blog about whether or not you are an ‘influencer’ or ‘just influenced’. In my wildest dreams I never expected so many reactions from so many people. Unfortunately, a lot of sad stories too, shared in confidence, but at the same time, its ok to generalize and tell you about them too.

I find myself continually asking why people attach so much importance to being popular on social media. Is it to flatter the ego or just to be considered as someone important? In other words, an influencer or someone influential. A person who others look up to and follow as an example? Sure, there are differences between the real influencers and by that, I mean people like The Obama’s, Oprah Winfrey, a lot of Hollywood film stars, popular singers, royalty and such like. People look at them as those who set an example for others. If this is entirely true, I am not sure. Maybe yes, maybe no.

Yes of course there are inspirational posts, but you have to be selective and not take everything at face value all the time. You have to think that maybe some of the so-called influencers are posting not only for their own ‘feel-good moment’, but they are often sponsored by special brand names and either get free goods and samples or receive payment for each post. I remember being totally flabbergasted one time by the income that footballer Ronaldo Cristiano receives per year for social media posting. This is big business! Going up to millions of dollars a year. But for those who have good insights into the costs of advertising, say in newspapers, or magazines, will realize that social media advertising is very lucrative and then we come back to the web of algorithms I talked about in my previous blog. Literally anything to keep your attention for as long as possible. That is what it is about! And even worse if you are tempted to order products using their so-called special discount codes it is only giving them more and more.

Unfortunately, though the downside is that a lot of data, specifically photos then become available and unprotected for all of us. I heard a lot of sob stories in all the reactions I received of people complaining that their photos were used to create false accounts. Well yes, obviously they will be if you are continually posting day in day out and believe me, social media giants like Facebook and Instagram (who are actually the same conglomerate) might sympathize if you are lucky, but they will do very little to help you. You can report, block, dismiss and delete but it does not stop those who are constantly searching for profiles to use. By this I mean the rows of ‘suggested for you’ contacts.

What made me sad was the stories I read from people who have been misused and mostly for one thing. Money. Even though to me it seems absolutely not done to ever send money to someone you don’t know personally, believe me people do. There is so much phishing email and scams at the moment, even in encrypted WhatsApp that you may receive a message from your own family members for money and send it in all innocence to find out later it was a scam.

It is really scary how much and how easily our data can be accessed. I noticed this in a recent TV documentary where software was placed (remotely) into someone’s phone and then used to track down a fake person posing as someone else. That is pretty damned scary. Another thing I know is that if you have your ‘Location’ on, is that you can be tracked literally where you are, what time you are there and in fact all your daily movements. Needless to say mine is switched off. Have you ever looked at the settings on all your apps and seen how many give camera and microphone access? Do, you will be amazed and the only advice I can give, is close it off if you don’t need it.

Big brother is watching you whether you think he is or not! Believe me he is!

But the blog caused a bit of stir, which on the one hand is great for me because then I know people read it, but on the other hand, sort of depressing that there are so many freaky people all over the place, who firstly have nothing else to do than impersonate another and secondly actually have the time as well.

And I haven’t even started to talk about the people who have accounts and communicate with so many people (who they either do or do not know), the latter being the point and how much rubbish they can write. Thing is: how many people are they actually writing the same message to? More than you may think. I had several stories which related back to one or two people.

Yes, I could name them and give you all the link to their accounts, but that is not my style. I am someone who still respects another’s privacy, even though I may not agree with what they are doing, I think it is their choice and that they have to live with it. Things can go horribly wrong and then who is to blame. The victim or the perpetrator?

My only advice is what I have said before. Check your own account regularly. Maybe make a golden rule for yourself, like me, to only accept the people you know personally or have met in person. This seems the safest way to me and also regularly filter your Facebook contacts. Often, we are added into groups almost automatically and then find ourselves commenting to a post that someone we know had made and then being inundated with comments from people we do not know. This does not of course, apply to closed groups. Why? Because you are then asked if you want to join and then if you click on ‘yes’ it has become your own choice. Simple really. But you have to think about your choices, it’s been said so many times before and it’s the only sound advice too.

I was grateful to the people who were brave and shared their story. That is being not only vulnerable but authentic too. Literally daring to share and comment makes them the winners in my opinion. Of course, every single one of us makes mistakes, but the great ones are those who dare to admit it and move on. That is after all how we learn. What we came here to do in the first place. There is never a path or road anywhere in the world, where the surface is smooth and its easy going all the way. There will always be challenges and also saboteurs (and in this case social media ‘so called’ influencers). Just be brave and don’t be taken in. The moment that your gut feeling tells you that something is just not right, then listen to it and move on. It’s the best way, believe me, no matter how much you think you can’t or how much you are involved. The big question is: are you? and with whom?

Again, many thanks for all the reactions and just keep checking. Your passwords too, it does not take long to change them and you can save and update them all in a ‘3 step protected wallet’. Use the really strong difficult passwords that are recommended and if you are worried about not remembering, save them and you could take a screen shot, write it down somewhere safe and then delete the photo.

As I wrote the majority of this blog yesterday, I have sort of debated a bit about whether I will share a little bit more from the stories I received and again I think it is pretty scary when you see the same name cropping up again and again.

Even though as a writer, freedom of the press and so on, it is not my style to mention the names, but as a story writer I can make a story (which in this case is true) into fiction. I had more than 50-odd reactions about this person who will call for the sake of the story ‘soldier boy’.

An Instagram social influencer who has many followers and follows many too. The very moment that you make some form of comment to any post, trust me you will suddenly find a message in your direct message box. And it usually begins with copious thanks for being a fan (did you know you were?) and then saying how lovely it is to meet people and the chat gets going. It will not be long before you are asked: Are you on Google Hangouts or WhatsApp. Going to WhatsApp means giving your private mobile number. My advice do not!

But Hangouts is a sort of chat program too, related to your Gmail (or Google) account. It always begins the same, well that is what my readers told me. A nice little chat when the only point is to make you feel sorry for them. Usually, a breakup from a relationship, lost their partner, lost family members and yes, they are so grateful to have a friend to talk to in these troubled times. Believe me the Corona crisis was ‘music’ to these people’s ears. People had more time, were at home more often and often looking for more contact via social media. This was absolutely the case with ‘soldier boy’.

And then daily posts, non-stop stories and if you have clicked on the ‘follow’ button you will be constantly inundated with information. If at this moment you begin to have your doubts, then my advice is to click off and block the contact, but by this time you have been completely taken into their story. A lot of the time, chats begin with the cheesy comments, like Hi Honey, Hi dear, Hi beautiful and if you feel flattered which every single person would, you are then whether you know it or not into some form of relationship. The ‘soldier boy’ starts to share a lot about his life but believe me he has a full-time job on his hands chatting to a load of people and they all get the same story. You may notice that your direct questions don’t get answered and you are expertly led into a discussion about something else.

At a certain stage he will share a secret with you. About his lifelong dream and he is so excited it is about to happen. Please remember he tells you I am only telling you because you are so special to me. Again, the flattery. But remember it is all b.s. he is saying that to loads of people at the same time. When the moment comes, and it will, when he asks for financial help, then you are going to have to come up with a reason why you can’t. And this is where the sad bit comes in, that people actually think they are in a relationship with this person and yes, they want to help, of course they do and the moment they refuse, then the tables are turned immediately. Your friendly contact suddenly becomes angry and then goes on to blame you for the failure of his dream. Accusations, abusive comments some of which are very below the belt and you end up in a sort of nightmare situation. On the one hand it was all going fine and suddenly you are ‘persona non grata’. In all the comments I received about this person, it was exactly the same each and every time. And then how do you get out and away?

The answer is very simple and please remember here that it is your choice. Stop taking any notice of the messages you receive, delete the chat and then block the person and report. It is the only way even if you think your heart is breaking. I was absolutely shocked to read how many of my storytellers had actually sent money! No surely not? But yes, they had. ‘Soldier boy’ knows exactly what to say and how to target and once the money is received, you will not hear from him again. He will move on, laugh his head off and think what a stupid person you were. Hard but true.

People like this are the ‘pits’ in my opinion because they take huge advantages of other people and it’s almost a form of abuse. There isn’t really any option whatsoever to make or file a report, this is happening, all day every day and it will continue to do so until you make the ‘golden rule’ for yourself if you are on social media. Restrict your contacts to the people you know personally.  It is simple and even though you may like to think that you have loads of followers or people interested in you, the real ones are those you know. There are sites online where you can report, but I ask myself if this really has any effect. If in doubt and it is something serious, then of course call the Police. If someone is stalking or threatening you.

I keep writing about this and I keep receiving comments from a serious amount of people who have fallen for this. In a few weeks it will be 2021 and you could think about a real clean out for the New Year in your own social media. Just restrict it to those you know and remember once more, it is your choice to accept a chat or not. Remember that. You are not being forced to and even though you may think they are handsome, charming, have lovely eyes and so on, you HAVE to ask yourself one simple question: Is this the real deal? There are fakes and imposters using other people’s information and photos to make accounts but and this is even worse, there are people with accounts which actually belong to them, but it is all a game to them to chat to many and to get the maximum they can from literally everyone. ‘Flattery will get you everywhere’ is a well-known phrase. But ask yourself, how far will you go? How desperate are you for the attention? How much can you trust that it is genuine. It may look it, it may sound it but how can you be totally sure. You can’t. Not unless you know them personally.

These are questions that I am afraid I cannot answer but I can only tell you that the stories I received as comments to my own blog were shocking. I personally feel ‘soldier boy’ and he is a real person, is a complete and utter insult to his profession. If this rings a bell with you are you happen to know who I mean, then please think again and get off the chat with him.

Forewarned is forearmed. Remember that!

SAW THIS IMAGE YESTERDAY QUITE BY CHANCE ON FACEBOOK AND THOUGHT: THIS IS PERFECT ADVICE!

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Jill Kramer

Hi! I'm Jill and I'm a passionate author of books, short stories, columns and blogs.

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