Guest columnist Gene Stamell: An aging ‘Influencer’

  • Social media infuencer Addison Rae attends The Metropolitan Museum of Art’s Costume Institute benefit gala celebrating the opening of the “In America: An Anthology of Fashion” exhibition on Monday, May 2, 2022, in New York. Evan Agostini/Invision/AP

Friday, June 17, 2022

I moved from a Boston suburb to Leverett almost four years ago. Quite a transition, living as a tiny trout in a large lake and suddenly becoming a medium-sized pike in a tiny pond. It was the right move. I have shrunk by almost 2 inches in the past 15 years; Leverett Pond is the perfect size for me.

As I age (and shrink), my place and purpose in the world change. I’m sure many folks in or around their seventh decade feel much the same way. Some people, like my wife, Jan, have little need to find a sense of purpose in the “outside” world. They are blissfully content reading, gardening, doing yoga, cooking — pursuing activities that are inner-directed and require little or no social contact.

I, for better or worse, need to feel some connection outside my family. I like to know that I am still needed, wanted, and yes, appreciated by others. I’m not particularly proud of this aspect of my personality, but there you have it.

So, to satisfy my desire for recognition, I am considering a bold move: I am looking into becoming an “influencer” on social media. Until last week, I had never heard of the word influencer. I had no idea what an influencer does and certainly couldn’t have named one. After some (very shallow) digging around the ’Net, I discovered this: “Influencers can work across various verticals, using posts, stories and reels to make a name for themselves over time.”

I’ll admit that left me a bit confused. Hey, I’m happy I can maintain my balance in a vertical position! But probing further, I discovered this tip for becoming a successful Influencer: “Look for your strengths to figure out what content suits your personality.”

That’s what big-time social media influencer Addison Rae, age 21, did. 38.7 million people now follow her on Instagram, eagerly awaiting her daily beauty tips. She earns mucho dinero promoting various beauty and health products for companies around the globe. She is described, online, as a “household name.” HM — not in this household.

As you might guess, I would make for a poor promoter of beauty aids. Very poor indeed. So I have spent some time listing my “strengths,” to figure out exactly what I might influence on social media. After eliminating athletics, fitness, woodworking (I have, at times, hammered a nail straight and flush into a wooden surface), and auto repair (I have never, in my entire life, changed my own oil), I have settled on — drumroll – making Scotch No Ice.

Pouring Scotch straight-up, neat, no ice. This is something I know how to do extremely well. It is a definite strength of mine. I can safely say I have never failed in this endeavor, and, let’s be honest, how many activities can one name where failure has never occurred, not even once?

My plan is simple: each evening (or midday, with blinds drawn and no clock in sight), I will post a video of how one pours and drinks Scotch No Ice. All the necessary ingredients and equipment, a bottle of Scotch and a glass, will be set upon an attractive table or countertop. A typical 2-3 minute segment will consist of a display of the label of the selected Scotch whiskey; a discussion regarding choice of drinking glass; a demonstration of the proper pouring technique (basically, don’t miss the glass!)

The culmination of each episode will be the drinking of the Scotch whisky, using a sniff-and-sip method that best enhances the experience.

There are a few issues to be resolved. In the past, I have posted several videos to YouTube that have been viewed by approximately 35 people. That’s a long way from 38.7 million. Then again, that was YouTube, which is new-school to me but old-school to anyone into social media. The Scotch No Ice market on Instagram is probably wide open.

Another possible hurdle involves appearance. Addison Rae is slim, cute, perky, with flowing waves of blond hair framing a wrinkle-free, complexion-perfect face. I am a short, stalky, balding 71-year-old with a double chin and sagging bags of skin beneath my eyes. But who knows? My appearance might elicit sympathy, my followers thinking that this guy has earned all the Scotch he wants. Let’s keep him company. He needs us.

Lastly, I will be flexible and fair when liquor companies come calling at my front door. I have my favorite Scotch whisky, to be sure, but it wouldn’t take much for me to fall in love with a different brand.

Above all, an influencer on social media must keep an open mind.

Gene Stamell lives in Leverett. Additional Scotch No Ice tips are available at gstamell@gmail.com.