Influence and Legacy
The concept and impact of social capital
Influence can be defined as “the capacity to have an effect on the character, development, or behavior of someone or something, or the effect itself.”
It also can be defined as “the power to shape policy or ensure favorable treatment from someone, especially through status, contacts, or wealth.”
The word also has origins in the latin, meaning, “an influx, flowing matter,” and specifically “the flowing in, of ethereal fluid.”
So what does influence mean? In particular, can something that isn’t even physical exist as capital? And could that also mean that we could make an investment into the spiritual?
We could argue and say influence can be retained through money. Money itself, a currency, can have power over people.
Influence could be measured by a single point. Exactly, ask, “how many followers do you have on a social media account?” Or, “how many points do you have in this game?”
Influence could also be an act of persuasion, where allies and divides are drawn. This may come in the form of negotiating, bartering, or social status.
Influence itself is the currency used in our political economy.
Contrasting influence, we have legacy.
Legacy can be defined as “a thing handed down by a predecessor.” If influence is the capital, legacy would be the investment and “profit” from it.
William Faulkner describes the purpose of art as,
“The aim of every artist is to arrest motion, which is life, by artificial means and hold it fixed so that a hundred years later, when a stranger looks at it, it moves again since it is life.”
Here, legacy captures the immortality of art. It is legacy that puts art in suspended animation. There is no death. Legacy lives forever.
Influence, however, fades away. Influence may turn into legacy. But legacy, however, is not capital, nor the measurement of influence. Legacy is rather handed down by a predecessor, and acts as the bulk of work which influence carved it to be. Influence can only shape the present, and it’s found in our current zeitgeist obsessed with “social media” and trying to define the non-physical as tangible and controllable capital to spend and to buy.
Ask, “does influence ever grow?”
“Does money ever grow?”
What if it all stagnates?
What if there is an influence stagnation. Would legacy ever be accomplished?
What if we have too much influence, and too much data, that no once cares about the value of anyone or anything anymore. Everyone has a Wikipedia page, and everyone is equally famous as the next rock star.
At that point, we have to examine the ideology of liberalism and its intention and obsession with freedom and individualism for all. Liberalism only celebrates the politically correct choices, and shames the wrong ones under its framework. For example, it’s ok to be gay, but it’s not ok to be a white nationalist.
Everyone can have their own ego, so as long it does not break down the ideology which enforces libertarian thought. Influence becomes worthless, and like the capitalist economy, it will burn all meaning down to the ground. Legacy becomes absurd, like a historical error.
We have created an obsession around influence, where influence never grows, nor could it be an investment to any future legacy. Influence is like the wind. Only for a moment, it’s all gone in a few years.
But what about legacy that means something? Where is the legacy investment in human civilization and the geniuses that built it?
We should strive to create art that will last forever after we die.
Thus, I am only alive until I produce. I am alive when you read the words I have written, and where I have no control over them.
I do not exist, and you do not exist either.
We are living in a dream.
Imagine embracing death. Imagine not existing. Imagine embracing that dead end into nothing.
What could we produce before we shut down?
Can we influence people? Or could we create a long-lasting legacy?
Emil Cioran knew the true tragedy of life was existing, because we could not embrace the real meaning of life that creates immortality. That is, death.
And like Buddhist thought, if only we understood that existence is a distraction, could we focus on the greater things for humanity. That, which is both, influence and legacy.
These words will live forever. I, however, do not exist. I am not real.
May these words influence you to do good, and may legacy be your purpose.