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In praise of…the ‘accidental influencer’

Updated: Sep 21, 2023

If there is one thing that social media has spawned no shortage of…it’s influencers.

People who are committed to blazing the ‘best life’ trail, and all through the seemingly simple art of ‘do as I do’.

So much has the stereotype of a ‘muse’ adapted accordingly, morphing into the ring-light armed, smartphone wielding Poster Girl of today,  that I almost failed to recognise ‘Flannel Lady’ (who by all accounts was devoid of both soft-lighting and streaming technology) for the real-life, bonafide influencer that she is.

Flannel Lady sits in the sauna at my local leisure centre every Friday.

Stretching. Limbering. Probably meditating.

She has a flannel that, at an indefinite point in her thermal therapeutic ritual, gets laid aface… albeit to what benefit, I can only speculate.

Flannel lady is in her senior years, and from the seamlessness of her head-shoulders-knees-and-toes enactment, I would say that hers is a ‘keystone habit’ born out of much more than the fickle underpinnings of an instagram #healthhack.

As I stealthily observe each carefully choreographed motion - I envisage her mother, and probably even her mother’s mother… self-massaging away the toil and toll of the days, each woman blissfully unaware of the baton of learned behaviour being dropped in their sun-saluting wake.

Flannel Lady doesn’t realise it, but not only is the secret to her family’s probably hard-won good health about to get ‘yoinked’ by a random, mental-note taking stranger in the sauna, but in the process….she’s earned her influencer stripes - with no account for their social media currency.

Now, I’m not saying I’m going to take this inspiration to the same flannel-facialing levels first witnessed in the woody shadowlands of that lazy Friday afternoon.

However, I’m inclined to think that this chance encounter has proved a much-needed reminder, as to just how non-sensical it is to spend the silence and sanctity of my precious 'sauna time’ on overthinking…and people watching.

Far better, instead, to try and embrace at least some form of the ‘Hot Hokey Cokey’ which - for all its neck-stretching, temple-rubbing, ankle-circling histrionics - has piqued more than a little of my curiosity.

Alongside all the other crumbs of ‘sworn by’ health habits I’ve begged, stolen and borrowed over years - from the spoonful of spirulina a day, to the childhood hobbies resurrected -  this latest switch-up holds much ‘finishing touch’ promise.

The final piece in the big-picture-health puzzle, perhaps?

Or, is it simply a mildly-interesting nod to the 'organic' vs non-organic argument, and the virtues of trying to harvest the most-part of our inspiration, from the unbiased (un-filtered) pastures of the ‘accidental influencer.’

These 'accidental influencers' - the Keanu Reeves’ of the everyday, leisure-centre-going world - are the people whose personhood so often proves an #ad in itself, with far-reaching potential to motivate and inspire the observer masses.

Just by going about her normal, daily knee-massaging routine, Flannel Lady has (quite unwittingly) incentivised me to ‘move the needle’ in new and previously un-thought-of directions, whilst also (more importantly) shining a light on the hidden therepeutic talents of...towelette!

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