The Old Broke Rancher Wonders, What's an Influencer?

Old Broke Rancher Masthead

This morning, while I slurped my sodden corn flakes, I read an article from the real estate section of Insider about an influencer who left their cushy New York City job to come to Montana. 

What's an influencer, I wondered. One of those guys who bend spoons with their minds?

I was disappointed to find that wasn't the case, and the article doesn't give any clue as to what an influencer is, but evidently it's lucrative because in the article she brags about how she bought a house in Bozeman for a million dollars. In cash.  

My ears perked up at this, because the Old Broke Rancher is nothing if not open minded when it comes to get-rich-quick schemes. I've been poor most of my life and I'm getting on in years now, so if I'm going to get rich, I guess I'd better do it quick. 

Could being an influencer be the key? 

I pored over the article for answers. 


A post shared by Shallon Lester (@shallonxo)

"In NYC, I barely kept my head above water. I had a big title but a terrible bank account and felt trapped. Now I live in a five-bedroom house in a rural area, and I love it," she wrote in the article. 

Of course, a move like that requires some sacrifices; she reports that "the only thing I really miss is wearing my designer clothes and not getting funny looks."

Now, here's where I can really sort of see where she's coming from. Not that I'm wearing Dolce & Gabbana to the store very often. In fact, I nearly had a stroke just trying to spell it. No, what makes that relatable to me is that I'm mighty tired of getting funny looks in my "Who Farted?" t-shirt. Don't frown at me, laugh! It's funny!

Anyway, this young lady (who made headlines recently by feuding with Meghan Markle, no joke) found that Montana was different in other ways as well. For instance, she says that life in Montana has necessitated that she "cultivate patience and softness in a way I didn't have to in Manhattan.

That's Manhattan, New York, by the way. Not Manhattan, Montana. Just saying in case that's unclear.You might be thinking to yourself, "there's another Manhattan? Not just the Montana one?" And yes, there is, and that's where she's from. So when she says Manhattan, don't picture the Gallatin River, or a cowboy holding a big burger at the Manhattan Saloon, or any of that. Picture tall buildings, the Ghostbusters, a rat carrying a piece of pizza, and so on. Get it? I'm sorry to press the point, but I've got to make this absolutely crystal clear. Capische? Ah, fugheddaboudit. 


Anyway, one of the ways she now has to apply her newly developed soft patience is in dealing with all of us yokels and our silly ways. For instance, "priorities are different here," she reports, and "businesses are understaffed and it's common to see employees not show up to work if it's a good ski day or the first day of elk-hunting season."

Hey, is that true, you guys? Is that the reason for the state-wide staff shortage that you've all no doubt noticed and, if you're a small business owner, been feeling the effects of? Have you all been skiing and elk-hunting? Damn! Get back to work, why don't you! People are trying to get their carefully crafted seasonal single-serve coffee pour-overs and overnight oats over here! Although to be candid, I have to admit I'm a little skeptical that the reason for the staff shortages is outdoor recreation, but I can't back it up with hard data. All I'm saying is, if the nearby small, locally owned Ma and Pop restaurant has to close its doors after years because you can't stop skiing and hunting, well, then shame on you. 

But whatever, that's not very interesting. What's an influencer's dating life like? 

I'll let her tell you:

"I think the men in Montana I've met have a very different type of intelligence than I'd found in NYC: They can build things, they can kill things, and they're very tactile and useful. I find it so cool and sexy, but they don't really find my type of intelligence sexy. I'm sarcastic, witty, and nerdy. The guys I've met here are more into intelligence that has a real world application."

Once again, I find myself sort of empathizing with her, especially because I, too, am very witty even though no one else thinks so, which means that I have to helpfully point it out to them. 

"I'm witty, sarcastic-but-charming, and funny!" I say to my wife all the time, but she never laughs. "I'm handsome and well-endowed, too!" I frequently add as she walks away.

What kind of intelligence, by the way, doesn't have a real-world application? I labored over this question for some time before I decided what she must mean. She must have an exhaustive and encyclopedic knowledge of every episode of Star Trek or something. 

On the other points, I have to wonder. Is that true, guys? Can we build? We can. And kill? Yes, if we have to. Are we tactile? I'm not sure what that means, but I've certainly got a texture. Are we useful? My wife shouted her answer to me from the other room: "Debatable!" 

"Guys I've met," she continues in her article, "seem to gravitate towards girls who need saving, or who may have jobs but not careers." 

Ok, ladies, now I want to hear what you think. Is this true? And how literally am I to take "girls who need saving?" Personally, back when I was in the dating game I used to wander through the woods with a rifle and a hatchet searching for women who were just about to be run over by a moose. That way I figure I would run in, shoot the rifle, scaring off the moose, and then introduce myself. Then I'd whittle them a little flute to show my usefulness. So yeah, maybe she has some stuff right. 

But I never minded a woman who had a career. As a matter of fact, my wife has worked for the railroad for decades. I'd call that a career. God knows I respect it.

Anyhow, I still haven't figured out what an influencer does. So I search it up online and find that Oxford Learner's Dictionary (please, keep it simple for me) defines it as "a person or thing that influences somebody/something, especially a person with the ability to influence potential buyers of a product or service by recommending it on social media." 


After spending a sleepless night in feverish research, I've cobbled together a fragile understanding of what an influencer is. It's someone who makes their whole life an ad, and expects everything to be given to them for free and then they, in turn, tell their "followers" to spend good money on the thing they just got for free. I know I can do that. 

Thus illuminated, I drove to the local tire shop and tried to make the fellow behind the counter understand what I'd only recently learned. 

"You give me the tires, you see? And then I tell my buddy Jim to buy them. Or, I take a picture of myself sipping an iced coffee while I lean on the tire, and I send it to Jim with a caption like 'just living my best tire life, how about you' and he... he, uh..." 

Uh-oh, I can feel my grasp of what an influencer is weakening after all. 

"And he, uh, gets jealous of me, or wants to be me, or something, and then he comes and buys the tires because he saw the tires, uh, in the photo with me...?"

And this guy, who was very rude, by the way, this guy just laughs at me and tells me the get the hell out of his store, only he didn't say hell. 

This somewhat mirrors this woman's experience as well, as she discovered that out here she "struggled to secure brand partnerships with local businesses. Many haven't gotten on board with influencer advertising because they don't see the value."

Don't see the value? Ah damn. That won't work. I guess maybe I won't be a social media influencer after all. It just seems like too much work. 

But I've been hearing good things about this OnlyFans...

Gary Shelton was born in Lewistown in 1951 and has been a rancher, a railroader, a biker, a teacher, a hippie, and a cowboy.  Now he's trying his hand at writing in the earnest hope that he'll make enough at it to make a downpayment on an RV.  Hell, scratch that.  Enough to buy the whole RV.  He can be reached at [email protected] for complaints, criticisms, and recriminations.  Compliments can be sent to the same place, but we request you don't send them - it'll make his head big.

Leave a Comment Here

Anita (not verified) , Fri, 08/18/2023 - 07:50
I love his stories so much!! Keep up the good work.
Mt Law Mom (not verified) , Fri, 08/18/2023 - 22:05
This was so good! Thanks for making me laugh til I wet myself.
Dawn Pust (not verified) , Sat, 08/19/2023 - 13:49
Hilarious! I laughed out loud while I read this. You paint such a great picture with how you write. Keep on keepin' on man!
Nikki (not verified) , Thu, 08/24/2023 - 09:59
ha, omg, this is the best response to that story yet! thank you.
Judy Congdon (not verified) , Thu, 08/24/2023 - 10:35
I needed a good laugh today (tech issues). Thanks for providing it. Your columns are really nice. As for "influencers", it's just a marketing gizmo hopefully to fade away asap.
Robert Manuel (not verified) , Thu, 08/24/2023 - 11:22
Gotta love people who have jobs that are not really jobs. Enjoyed that have no idea! I think influencers are "bloggers" who never made it. My definition of a blogger..."Someone who shares things on the internet that no person would sit and listen to without falling asleep".
John Rambo (not verified) , Thu, 08/24/2023 - 11:31
As always, a great read.
Teri Cole (not verified) , Fri, 08/25/2023 - 08:43
You are pure delight! Thank you for the giggles.
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