Virtual Influence: A New Take on an Old Saying

The saying “You’re the average of the five people spend the most time with” is still true, but has been redefined by the digital world.

The Impact of Digital Influencers

The introduction of podcasts, social media, YouTube, and streaming on the internet has reshaped the way we spend time. Today, many of us engage more with content creators, writers, and influencers online. These parasocial relationships can have a big impact on our behavior. As we are ‘spending time’ with these people, they can virtually become part of the five most influential presences in our life.

For example, about six or seven years ago, I spent a substantial amount of time binging on Tim Ferris’ podcast which caused a big boost of productivity. It hasn’t gone away. It actually changed who I am. This shift in behavior and mindset happens to all of us because humans are natural imitators. Babies learn through imitation, and even adults fall prey to it.

As another example, over the last few years, my wife has been following many parenting accounts on instagram. They are always posting tips and ideas. She sends the best ones to me. We have grown a lot in our ability to be good parents because of it.

The Modern Life Hack: Imitation for Advancement

So it hit me, there is a powerful life hack here. Instead of taking on the daunting set of multiple tasks or implementing a bunch of habits to achieve a goal, why not just follow the influencer or two who emulates the behavio we’re trying to change? By consuming their digital content during free hours, we more easily shape our attitudes and behaviors around their habits.

Notably, this tactic promotes self-growth while being easier and more fun. As our parasocial interaction reinforces our learned habits and traits, we position ourselves for success.

Don’t Over-Consume People You Don’t Want to Become

Leveraging online influence for personal growth can be incredibly beneficial. But with increased online presence and consumption of digital content comes the need to prioritize. Essentially, there’s a risk and warning wrapped up in the take-away from this post. You may think you’re only keeping up with a podcast or watching a Twitch streamer because they’re entertaining.

Would you spend as much attention on them if you knew you’d slowly become more like them?

Thanks! - rez0

For more of my thoughts on personal growth, cybersecurity, and anything under the sun, follow me on twitter.