Connecting with Culture
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The age of the influencer has peaked and a new age is dawning – that of the deinfluencer.
For years now, social media influencers have told us precisely what products to buy to be bang on trend. But, now, a growing number of deinfluencers are fighting back, using their platforms to say we don’t need another £200 lipstick, or a 20th pair of top-price trainers. Instead, we should use what we already own, or opt for cheaper, lesser-known, and better alternatives.
The cynical part of me wonders how many of these deinfluencers are simply yesterday’s influencers who’ve hopped on a new trend to appeal to a more cash-strapped, cost-conscious audience?
But the hopeful part of me, which is much bigger, believes this could be a really positive step. A pushback against overconsumption. A call to take seriously the impact our shopping habits have on the planet. Vital messages for our world right now!
This got me thinking about our role as followers of Jesus.
Broadly speaking, we might consider influence as being towards, and deinfluence as being away from. But these two really work together, since deinfluence is itself a form of influence, attempting to draw us away from one pattern of living and towards a better way.
And, aren’t we called to do both?
Christians have a dual role: a combination of prophetic critique and joyful celebration. As deinfluencers, we expose the shallowness of what the world offers, challenging people to abandon one way of living and pursue a better way. As influencers, we champion the good, holding out a gospel that truly promises ‘life to the full’ (John 10:10).
Both aspects are found in Jesus’ metaphors of salt and light (Matthew 5:13–16). Salt brings out good flavours, whilst also fighting against rot and decay. Similarly, light guides us towards good, whilst also exposing things that were previously hidden. Deinfluence and influence. Critique and celebration.
This week, why not ask God to help you see your workplace or community through the eyes of a (de)influencer? What is God asking you to call out? Unhealthy attitudes, cultures, or habits? And what values and practices can you celebrate and encourage more of? Things that reflect the kingdom of God, whether people realise it or not. How can you be a (de)influencing presence, shining light on the bad, and inviting people to pursue a better way that can be found only through Jesus?
Liam is a writer at Bible Society.
His personal website is liamthatcher.com