It was a matter of necessity. In order to photograph an object successfully, I needed appropriate lighting. Scouring the Internet, I found a type of lighting that suited my needs; it was an adjustable ring light. Just the thing for taking photographs of inanimate objects. The catalogue referred to it as an ‘influencer’ light. At the time of purchase, I had no idea what this meant. It was, so I believed, a reference to a particular type of bulb.
Turns out that ‘influencer’ refers not to the light itself but to the person using it. An ‘influencer’, apparently, is a person who uses social media to promote brands. To the untrained eye – namely, my eye – this sounds a lot like unemployment. Doubtless, people who do this kind of thing spend their days rolling around in Bitcoin in the far-reaches of cyberspace, but it’d be an odd thing to put on a customs declaration under ‘occupation’ when arriving in another country. The product is intended, in every sense, to show the ‘influencer’ in the best possible light.
Instantly, I was overwhelmed by the need to call JB Hi-Fi to tell them the light wasn’t to make me look better (if that were possible) but to help take photographs of various objects. When the person I was speaking to was either disconnected or became completely non-responsive after suffering a catastrophic lack of interest, I emailed a clarifying statement. I heard nothing back. I am now concerned that they have me pegged as some lunatic who spends all his time engaged in on line frippery and desperate self-promotion. Which, of course, I would be if I knew how.
There’s nothing worse than being misunderstood. Being thought of as an ‘influencer’ is especially troubling. The only people I’ve ever seen who have declared being an ‘influencer’ as their life goal have been on Married At First Sight. Each to their own, but anything associated with the toxic cesspit of human misery that is MAFs is surely worth avoiding. It is, perhaps, no accident that ‘influencer’ sounds a lot to the ear like ‘influenza’ and is probably just as bad for you. One minute, you’re picking up a light; the next you’re off to the doctors for a certificate.
When you’re young, you can dream of being anything you wish. As a kid, most people I knew dreamed of opening the batting for Australia even if, like me, they couldn’t tell one end of a cricket bat from the other. Or an astronaut. Perhaps a plumber (thanks a lot, Mario!) Or maybe a shape-shifting bounty hunter from another planet sent to overthrow the government before colonizing Earth and its inhabitants as part of a boarder intergalactic upheaval. (Or maybe that was just me?) At a certain point, your options seem to narrow.
I was hanging out with my nephew. (Just being able to write given the past two years is something to celebrate!) We were killing time and found ourselves in what I might loosely refer to as a ‘variety store’; the kind that stocks pretty much everything from kitchen utensils, to hair gel to flux capacitors and all points in between. As we roamed the aisles, hemmed in by shelves crammed with all kinds of goods, we came across a section for costumes.
They had a startling array of dress ups available for sale. But, for reasons I can only assume relate to a deep desire to avoid being sued, the names of some of the costumes didn’t match their appearance. One costume looked a lot like a Smurf, but called itself, ‘Blue Elf’. An Oompa Loompa costume was titled ‘Red Candy Maker Boy’. ‘Kid’s Space Rebellion Fighter’ was obviously Star Wars and ‘Green Plumber Boy’ looked a lot like a certain figure from Nintendo. But there was an exception; one that didn’t fear the laws of intellectual property. The ‘Children Jesus Costume’ was exactly as it sounds.
It begs the question: who sends their kid off to a fancy dress party dressed as Jesus? It would, I feel, place a lot of pressure on the child to live up to the hype. To turn water into Fanta. To feed thirty kids with a slice of fairy bread and a single chocolate crackle. To raise Sparkles, the Highland Terrier who’s buried in the backyard just beyond the Hills Hoist, from the grave. To walk across the family swimming pool. And that’s even without mentioning the additional pressure to achieve one hundred per cent accuracy in ‘Pin the Tail on the Donkey’. Better off to dress them up as Spiderman and be done with it.
Then it struck me – Ishould purchase ‘Children Jesus Costume’. With a few adjustments, I could adapt something intended for a nine year old and make it fit me. Better still, I could take my influencer light and attach it to the back of my neck so that a saintly halo appears over my head. Then update all my profile pictures –Instagram, Linked In and my customer account at JB Hi-Fi.
The irony is this – if after publishing this story there’s a sudden rush to buy ‘Children Jesus Costume’, I will have become an influencer, like it or not. It will be a self-fulfilling prophecy. As I sit here in my robes, my influencer light glowing gently above my head, I think that sounds just about right.