Can everyday people change the world? Or do you have to be a business leader, media figure, or celebrity? If you like the idea that absolutely anyone can have a huge effect, look no further than TIME Magazine's list of the 25 Most Influential People on the Internet for this year. Sure, it includes household names such as J.K. Rowling, Katy Perry, and (of course) Kim Kardashian. But many on the list are ordinary people with unglamorous lives that you've probably never heard of. Or people that you've only heard of because a single act of social media sharing suddenly put them in the spotlight.

Take it as inspiration: You don't need a blockbuster movie, hit song, or bestselling book to be an internet influencer. Here are some folks who can prove it:

1. Carter Wilkerson

This Nevada teen idly tweeted one day: "Yo @Wendys how many retweets for a year of free chicken nuggets?" Wendy's--which gets points both for being super-responsive and for having a sense of humor--immediately tweeted back: "18 million."

Wilkerson quickly grabbed a screen shot of Wendy's response and tweeted it to the world with the hashtag #NuggsForCarter and a simple request: "HELP ME PLEASE. A MAN NEEDS HIS NUGGS." Did he get 18 million retweets? Not even close. But he did get almost 3.7 million, unseating Ellen DeGeneres' Oscars selfie as the most-retweeted tweet ever. That was good enough for Wendy's: Wilkerson got his nuggets.

2. Matt Furie

Matt Furie is a cartoonist who has exhibited and published one children's book. He got famous for a reason he hates: His character Pepe the Frog came to be used as a meme by white supremacists and subsequently went viral. The original Pepe is drawn saying, "Feels good man," but the Nazi version sports black hair and a Hitler mustache and says, "Kill Jews man." Whereupon the Anti-Defamation League declared poor Pepe an official hate symbol.

Furie tried to reclaim Pepe in various ways, at one point starting a crowdfunding campaign for the project (although it's hard to see how money would have helped him accomplish this). More recently, he drew a funeral for Pepe in an attempt to lay him to rest, but even that doesn't seem to have helped much.

3. Steven Pruitt

If you've ever used Wikipedia, you're more likely to have encountered Steven Pruitt's work than anyone else's. His day job is as a contractor for U.S. Customs and Border Patrol, but his real passion is making Wikipedia better. He's edited more than 2 million entries, and written more than 200 articles on notable women, trying to correct the site's gender imbalance. He's also made the site better by creating new ways to organize entries. Pruitt told TIME: "Wikipedia is such an incredible tool because it makes so much information accessible to so many people at once,. But what good is it if it's hard to navigate?"

4. Bana Alabed

"My name is Bana, I'm 7 years old. I am talking to the world now live from East #Aleppo. This is my last moment to either live or die." This seven-year-old tweeted this and other messages from the city destroyed in Syria's civil war, and the world listened. Alabed's tweets (with assistance from her English-speaking mother) gave outsiders a view of conditions on the ground in an area most journalists couldn't reach. She came to have more than 370,000 followers.

Alabed and her family were among the Syrians evacuated from the remains of Aleppo to Turkey, and she has now become a Turkish citizen and published a book about her experiences. She also recently turned 8.

Published on: Jun 29, 2017
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