I am SMH (shaking my head) watching my teenage daughter constantly watch YouTube, snap millions of pics on SnapChat, and perform on TikTok. She’s asked to purchase items at Trader Joe’s because they are amazing only to be disgusting once she has actually tasted it. She was influenced by an influencer. We are beginning the process of the college search, and there is a lot of information out there. There was a university that she claimed was perfect for her because it was her style. We briefly visited it, and the Instagram photo was significantly better than the actual. She doesn’t want to go there anymore.
Since the internet wasn’t a part of my upbringing in the 70s or 80s and even the beginning of the 90s, I was contemplating who & what my influencers were. I don’t recall being enamored with anyone on TV or in media. I wanted Nike shoes, wore 2 Izods polos at a time, and wore Gloria Vanderbilt designer jeans. If I remember correctly, Tiger Beat magazine just showed multiple photos of teen boys for us to look at. I’m sure my parents were my strongest influencers typically demanding excellent grades, defining my social schedule, and approving & disapproving my behaviors.
Delving deeper, I was influenced by stories of my grandfather, grandmother, my father and his siblings leaving China during a difficult time and relocating to the U.S. The stories vary between each family member based upon their memory, their individual situation during the period, and how that it affected their outcome. I have mainly heard these stories in our home during family get togethers later in the evening when everyone was more relaxed. Forced to give up everything that he built as an entrepreneur, my grandfather worked diligently to ensure each of his family members were taken care of, and started from scratch at the bottom in a new country with a new culture. My father and mother believed in higher education although their parents did not so they both worked to pay their way through college. It is those stories that I know influenced my life.
It is with amazement, yet obligation, that I have realized that this is a gift to me. My family did all of this so that their future family could have a better life. And although I have not felt persecution or even risked my life to survive, I feel the responsibility to honor this gift.
I think sometimes this message gets lost in the day-to-day activities of our life. Although we work hard, we are spoiled and very fortunate. We get caught up in the unfairness and irritation of trivial matters. BUT…..what if we take a moment to appreciate that our elders made true sacrifices and took life threatening risks? It definitely puts things in a completely different light. THAT is influence.