"This Town" author Mark Leibovich depicts how the influence industries - lobbying, media, Congress, White House, PACs, NGOs, public relations, and think tanks - operate. It's exhausting to even follow the machinations. And, as with the money game in Manhattan, no one ever can feel secure that he or she has enough influence.
Out here in the mainstream, influence is hardly a rare commodity. Unless we are socially retarded, we all have it. After all, as researchers led by Giacomo Rizzolatti discovered, we humans run on neural Wi-Fi (mirror neurons) which determines everything from our facial gestures to if we will belly up to the ice cream truck for a soft serve. We resonate with each other.
It's neural Wi-Fi at 12-step meetings which has been sobering up drunks since 1935. That model, developed by the co-founders of Alcoholics Anonymous, is considered one the most influential movements in modern times. Hundreds of other 12-step programs sprung off from it.
Over cups of coffee, Baby Boomer women in my senior-citizen complex (Bella Vista, New Haven, Connecticut) influence other women to create new lives, after divorce, becoming a widow, losing the nest egg, and/or the death of a child.
And the influence her friends like Rhoda had over her helped Mary Richards on "Mary Tyler Moore" to make it, after all. Daily, just like Richards, we are throwing our hat in the air and recognizing, despite all odds, we are okay, maybe even good.
Power? Anyone who's outgrown teenager self pity knows we have as much power as we are willing to go after. After all, that takes work. An activist where I live inspires fear in everyone from local and state politicos to the building managers. My version comes through blogging. Although the brandname sites like GAWKER dominate the conversation, my voice continues to resonate. The trick has been to link my blog posts to Twitter.
On a macro level, as in D.C., influence may be quite complex and constantly shifting. Only a few will succeed as players. However, on the micro level, it is so commonplace that many of us want to shake off some of it. I cringe to see the 100s of email pitches for guest columns on this blog. The phone calls from mothers begging me to delete the posts about their sons are even more of a "public nuisance."