Sunday, November 2, 2014

Everyone's Entitled

I’m getting emails from LinkedIn offering me the opportunity to “hear what Influencers have to say.” Featured in the email are “a ghostwriter speaker,“ “a bestselling writer about habit…,” “a trainer and nonprofit innovator,” Richard Branson, and Arianna Huffington.
Do I have Influencer Huffington confused with another Arianna Huffington? The one I remember was the wife of a conservative politician who ran a deep-pockets campaign for a Senate seat and lost. I’ve looked into her background a bit; through Wikipedia, (admittedly, not always the most reliable source in the world, but I would expect any gross misrepresentations to have been litigated by now) and a profile in The New Yorker. 
Politically, according to Wikipedia, she supported Newt Gingrich and led a campaign that vilified President Clinton in staggeringly personal terms. She’s a liberal now. Literarily, she apparently survived three accusations of plagiarism, one of which she settled. She’s a publishing guru today. She reached the rarefied height of “LinkedIn Influencer” in 2012. The New Yorker article (October 13, 2008) is generally sympathetic but has some telling quotes from acquaintances.
I suppose someone who switches from our party to the opposition is a turncoat, and someone who does the reverse has “seen the error of his or her ways.” Probably apocryphal, but Abraham Lincoln was supposed to have argued the opposite sides of two similar cases on the same day in his lawyer years, explaining that he believed he was right in the morning but he was sure he was right in the afternoon. With all the conservative bullhorns out there I suppose I shouldn’t carp about someone talking up the liberal side, no matter how recently or circuitously arrived at.       A great lesson in chutzpah, though.

Still, think how lucky we are to have “Influencers“ -- people who know more than the rest of us and will take some of their valuable time to tell us that. 

Since the whole basis of social media, as I’ve come to understand it, is conversation, and conversation is a two-way process, and we’re already being invited to hear what they have to say, then Influencers must be open to hearing what we have to say. 

Before LinkedIn I didn’t know it was OK to approach someone who doesn’t know you at all and shove your opinion at him or her or ask for help or free professional advice, but LinkedIn has changed that. So -- who better to go to, if you’re starting an airline, for example, than Sir Richard? or for adjusting your political attitude, than Arianna? The great part is, an Influencer can hardly refuse you help; noblesse oblige is a guiding principle for the titled nobility.