We are all a product of our time. The culture, the economy, the media, the school systems, the politics, and the society itself help to mold us. So many things influence who we are and who we become that the notion that we are ‘our own person’ seems a bit silly. Sure, we make the final decisions on many things, if we’re lucky, but there are so many things and so many people pushing us and pulling us that it’s a miracle we can even hear ourselves think. None of this is to say that influence is bad.
We need some influence.
We need that good friend that doesn’t let you quit when you get discouraged.
We need that parent that supports and loves you at your rudest and brattiest.
We need that boss that believes in us when we don’t believe in ourselves.
We need that loved one that enters our life and shows us we’re beautiful too.
Heck, we need that music, those movies, that art, and those books that show you the world in ways you never dreamed about.
As a relatively sheltered kid who grew up in a small town in the middle of nowhere it wasn’t until I started consuming movies and television that I started to see a bigger world. It wasn’t until I started broadening my music tastes that I started to hear the world. It wasn’t until I met new friends that I started to find myself and find the world as a whole.
I was around twenty when I started going into Flint and meeting different cultures and types of people and with that and being in college my life was kicked wide open.
All of this is to say that we are the reflections of our influences. We have to hope, as kids, that we have good ones around us and that our parents, guardians, or loved ones, protect us as best they can.
As we get older the burden is on us to curate the influences in our life.
We have to be mindful of the people we listen to, the media we consume, and the voices we listen to.
Sure, there’s always ‘bad’ out there that is itching to get our ears and eyes.
The hope is that you were ‘raised right’ and are educated enough, by life, books, or the streets, that you can filter the cacophony of voices out there. Looking around, that’s obviously not happening much these days, but that’s the hope. That’s the goal, right?
I mean, right?
I know who I believe and who I don’t believe.
I know what I believe and don’t.
I hope I am pliable enough that if I learn something that makes me question what I believe that I will try to adapt as best I can to that new info.
I understand though that those things I listen to, and watch has an influence on me.
I understand that the people in my life have influence on me just as I have influence on others.
Heck, and this is a crazy thought, I get that the books I write and blogs I write and podcasts I put out can also have influence on people. I hope that I do these things mindfully. I try to. I don’t call out someone’s name unless I am applauding them, or they are such a larger-than-life figure as to not be able to really avoid saying who they are. Even so, I do my best not to say anything too outrageous.
I mean, I TRY!
The way this whole society thing works is that we constantly influence one another, for good and for ill. A power thing, truly.
The love we give.
The love we take.
The anger we dole out.
The opinions we offer without the asking.
The way we treat some and not all.
The way we interpret faith and religion.
How we teach our kids.
It goes on and on and on.
When you start to break it down it gets a little chilling.
The reason people worry about representation is that we all want to be seen, and heard, as we hear and see ourselves – we don’t like someone telling us who we are.
That makes sense, right?
Imagine someone going up to random people and saying, ‘Oh, hey, do you know ____? Oh, well, let me tell you all about them.’ And the person goes on to tell your business without your having any say in what or how they say it.
Pretty gross, right?
Then imagine that who you are, the things you do, the people you love, your whole life is boiled down to how you love and how you show that love, i.e. the sex you have.
Yet this happens all the time and this influence colors how people are seen treated.
It makes my head hurt thinking of how much influence we have over one another, and how influence has been weaponized in churches, in leadership, and in our media.
Be careful, be mindful how you influence the people around you.
Love the things you love, share your passion, just, hey, let’s dial that hate back a little, OK?
Because you don’t like Marvel movies shouldn’t give you the go-ahead to just slam everyone that does, you know?
Because you don’t like Country music doesn’t mean that you need to tell everyone that will listen, and some that won’t, that you hate it.
Ease up a little.
It’s fun to rant, it’s fun to rave, but keep it to people who are asking to hear it, like your friends.
Wield the power you have responsibly.
This is a world full of so much hatred these days, so much anger, and so much finger waving that we need to just take a moment or two to think about what we are saying, and what we are saying, and what we are repeating and WHY we are doing these things.
What do we want to gain from our influence and is it something that helps or hurts?
Look no further than the news and you see how the influences of someone’s life led them down a path to destruction and hate.
This isn’t me grabbing your hand and trying to sing you a hymn, this is me pleading for sanity. Religion and politics and the media have been weaponized.
We need to do our best to try to not add fuel to those fires.
SAYING all of this, let me share with you some of the artistic influences I had that shaped me.
MOVIES – in no order.
The Lord of the Rings trilogy
The Iron Giant
Blair Witch Project
(and lots and lots of others, but these are my faves)
MUSIC – in no order
Failure – Fantastic Planet
Megadeth – Rust in Peace
GWAR – Scumdogs of the Universe
Slayer – Seasons in the Abyss
Mr. Bungle – self titled
Flop – Whenever You’re Ready
Ani DiFrano – Dilate
Goblin – greatest hits 1
John Carpenter – theme songs
His Dark Materials
Encyclopedia Brown (the series)
The Damnation Game
At the Mountains of Madness
Lamont the Lonely Monster
This Book is Haunted
A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur’s Court
Buffy the Vampire Slayer
Kolchak the Night Stalker
The Adventures of Brisco County, Jr.
And there you go.
I love lots of stuff.
That’s some of it.
These things influenced me in some way or another, just as the people in my life have.
We’re all influenced, make sure you’re the most influenced by the things that reflect who you are and want to be.
Hey, I write books, do podcasts, make movies, and review movies. Hit up the links and check some of my stuff out.