Saturday, January 13, 2018


I just received a suggestion from Facebook that I spend from twenty to forty dollars promoting this morning’s blog post. Apparently it’s doing better than many similar posts on my page. For just $40 I could reach up to 3800 people!

This is the post to which they referred:

Good to know, Facebook. My absence of a blogpost might be the next big thing. I could be more well-known for not writing than anything I have actually written. If that isn’t a reason to ponder cultivating a little humility, then I don’t know what is.

This entire episode put me in mind of the concept of influence. Who would we say exerts influence over how we think or take action in Columbia/Howard County? Who are our “influencers”?

It was certainly interesting to see the County Executive and HCPSS exchange Very Public Letters to one another this week. It seems likely that Mr. Kittleman chose this method of communication not because his telephone was broken or that his office was out of stamps. For some reason he deemed it necessary to aim his letter at a particular audience, far wider than the intended recipients. Who was meant to be influenced by this gambit? Was it a way of exerting pressure on the Board of Education and Superintendent Martirano by stirring up discontent amongst the citizenry?

I really don’t know.

Some folks are influential because of what they do. Their actions inspire. Some are influential because of what they say or write. Their words shape the public debate. Some are influential because of perceived social, financial, or political power. We may wish we could be like the well-dressed and witty crowd that attend charity fundraisers, for instance.

For me the most influential people in our community are people who make me think. Sometimes they lift my spirits, sometimes they make me uncomfortable. And oftentimes that thinking leads me to action and/or change. I am deeply indebted to them. I used to spend far too much time wanting to be one of the Cool Kids. I am happy to say that, one way or another, I have been “influenced” by a far better crowd.

Oh, and if someone wants to DM me and explain what that was all about with the Very Public Letters this week, I’d appreciate it. I feel like the kid sitting at the dinner table serving as go-between because Mom and Dad aren’t speaking. There’s got to be a better way.

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