Influence

Be sure to taste your words before you spit them out.” – unknown

I went back to look at footage of an interview with Madonna in 2012 that has stuck in my mind. In the interview, she’s being asked about Lady Gaga’s music and she calls it “reductive.” Something about her facial expression made it stand out when I watched it even though I’m not deep into either of those artists’ work.

When I went back and watched it, I saw a lot of things that I didn’t remember. The ABC News interviewer was really pushing Madonna to say something unkind about Lady Gaga’s music – to weigh in on some perception of “feud” that was being circulated online. Madonna says a number of things about influence and being amused before being pushed to call Born This Way reductive. When the interviewer pushes further to ask what that means, Madonna gets this sassy look on her face and says, “Look it up.”

According to the Oxford Dictionary, it means, “tending to present a subject or problem in a simplified form, especially one viewed as crude.” Setting aside the issue of what we do to celebrities to try to stoke a controversy or conflict, I suspect I’ve always remembered this because I wonder if what we all do is reductive.

Speaking for myself, I think everything I do is derivative or reductive of someone else’s work. I’m endlessly influenced by the books I read, especially the Mark Nepo and Frederick Buechner meditation books that I read every morning before I write. But more than that, I’m influenced by all the posts I read from everyone else and the podcasts I listen to when driving. I try to carefully quote and link when I use material but often times what I get is inspiration or ideas about how to think about a topic.

Celebrity feud aside – isn’t what we are here to do to influence each other? And isn’t that an honor to be a part of someone else’s path? I’m not talking about plagiarism or giving credit where credit is due – but just knowing that our content might touch one other person in a way that is meaningful, isn’t that a good thing?

(featured photo from Pexels)

34 thoughts on “Influence

  1. I agree with you. I think the most joyful part of blogging, being alive, is that I have the opportunity to impact someone else’s life. I am careful to do so it a positive, gentle way– often taking my lead from what I’ve read in books or articles or posts from other bloggers.

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  2. Thank you, Wynne, for another great post! Truly rich. It brought up several points. The first one was how the media (not meaning this as a slam against anyone) likes to stir the pot. Unless there’s something happening in the pot, people won’t continue to stare into the pot–TV, or other media devices. Thus, drama, sells, even if it would drag all of us down with it.
    I really loved the part you shared about how all of us are influencing one another–either for good or bad, which I suppose ultimately is how we “take” anything. I remember the phrase about how all of us stand on the shoulders of giants. We’re all creating effects. Yours, via this post, was yet again wonderful!

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    1. All of us stand on the shoulders of giants. What a brilliant reminder, Art! And we’re in this together – which in this case of learning and growing with this great blogging community like you is such a blessing!!

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  3. I try and remind myself that there must be at least a handful of journalists and “media faces” who want to do some good in this world, but in general, I find our media incredibly frustrating. I would love to see more responsible journalism, and less infotainment. In any case… I love the message here. These days, I spend more time reading blogs than I do anything else. It is a form of human connection, a way to grow, and a way to be exposed to new ideas and ways of looking at things. Have a blessed day, my friend! 🙂

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  4. I haven’t kept track of whether Lady Gaga and Madonna are feuding, but I have often thought that LG only exists because Madonna paved the way. I don’t think having role models and influences is bad. As my mom likes to say, imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. I think our cultures focus too much on original originality, rather than a true expression of the heart.

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    1. What great points, Rebecca! As a child of the 80’s, I agree that Madonna definitely paved the way. And I agree with your mom that imitation is the sincerest form of flattery. May we all express our hearts – however it appears!

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  5. I agree with you! I write because I hope someone WILL be able to find something of use and take it into their own life!

    I have unfortunately seen a very few highly creative people looking down their noses at others less creative than them. I don’t find the behavior something to aspire to, as I’m not looking for their approval, but perhaps the people saying those things need to feel others are needing their approval??

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      1. You bring a huge smile to my face! You are a gentle teacher too, which I love seeing! Blessings!

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  6. I agree, Wynne. I would add, however, that I often find more “new” ideas in the thoughts of philosophers of hundreds of years ago or more and classic literature. My experience is that too many of those trying to make a career of “influencing” rarely offer the wisdom of life provided by those long dead.

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    1. Such an interesting and thought-provoking comment, Dr. Stein. Influencers of this day and age may be too busy trying to stake territory on “their territory” to find out that it has been said, discussed, proposed likely in a better way long ago!

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      1. Socrates claimed he knew nothing and specialized in asking questions , which upset enough Athenians to vote him into exile (though he chose suicide). I wonder how that strategy would work for an influencer today? Perhaps he’d lose his sponsors, the contemporary form of exile!

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      2. Right! And isn’t it interesting that we still talk about the Socratic method 2500 years later even though he upset his compatriots so much? Talk about influence!

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    1. What a lovely comment, Cristiana! I’ve been influenced and inspired by you in the 6 months of “working together” – it’s a lovely web on inter-connection as you put it so delightfully!

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      1. ❤ ❤

        P.S. Speaking of inspiration – I have spent a little time trying to make a crane but I think I'm messing up around step 6. I'm going to work on that this weekend!

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    1. So succinctly summed up with a great positive spin, Natalie. Thank you for adding this and showing what strength comes from reading and commenting on each other’s content!

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  7. That is absolutely a good thing! You never know where inspiration comes from. And you never know what others may find inspiring within your creations. The idea is to be creative and if that creativity comes from someone else’s work, then that’s productive, not reductive. Great post Wynne. As always giving me things to think about. And that’s inspiring.

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    1. I love what you say here – that it’s productive, not reductive. I love posting something and all the different ideas that flow in to make it better. We build off each other – and you are so right, it’s inspiring. And fun!! So good to be connected to you, Alegria!

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  8. Oh I remember this as if it was yesterday. The fandom war was intense. 😂 I think you can guess which singer’s side I’m on. 😆

    But you bring up a great point. This generation has seen the rise of influencers. I love seeing people use their platform, small or large, to make a positive difference. Greta Thunberg comes to mind. But I also feel the world has also become a combative world in many regards. People so ready to cancel each other and pick a fight from the comfort of their keyboard.

    We can do more to lead with positivity. As you do everyday on your blog! 😊

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I can totally guess! And as a child of the 80’s, I love Madonna too.

      What a great example you bring up with Greta Thunberg. There is so much good that needs to be done if we just stop picking fights from the comfort of our keyboards as you so amazingly and brilliantly put it.

      And thank you, my friend, for the amazing compliment. Happy Saturday!

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  9. “…but just knowing that our content might touch one other person in a way that is meaningful, isn’t that a good thing? Absolutely! In my world, it’s the soul to soul contact that brings meaning to my life. I’ll take it however I can get it!

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  10. Yes, of course that’s a good thing. I love the food for thought you provide on here, Wynne. 🙂

    And shame on that reporter for obviously trying to snag a juicy headline. I never thought I’d praise Madonna, but good for her for not giving in to it.

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  11. I think that this is the best part of it: just like a sharp knife is made by being exposed to fire and to the hammer, our ideas are improved by being exposed to the “fire” of other content and to the “hammering” of the discussion from the Wynnes of the world ❤

    And, yes, I agree, it's sad that so many interviewers like the one with Madonna are looking for a sensational click-bait rather than to actual opinions. We need more of what you suggested: being exposed to ideas and discussions that help us grow rather than drag us deeper into the mud 🙂

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