Opinion Leader
Someone on the internet whose word is considered absolute law.


(permanent link) added: 2011-07-17 19:41:25 sponsor: Digitalpotato (last reply: 2013-01-29 05:03:02)

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In the world of Marketing, an opinion leader is someone who communicates ideas and influences the behaviour and ideas of a group. More often than not, their behaviours and opinions make them serve as a role model for others.

On the internet, these people serve a very similar purpose. These guys are considered "Cool" or the voice of authority within a forum, and it's not uncommon to see these people come out and state their opinion, and then a bunch of forumgoers posting near identical opinions, agreeing with them, or even saying Me Too.

If one disagrees with this person; expect copious amounts of The Complainer Is Always Wrong, and often people White Knighting the opinion leader. Sometimes, people will even change their opinions and join a fandom or hatedom just to be accepted, saying whatever they think the opinion leader says is "cool". After all, people want to blend in and be accepted into the community, and why not just get your opinions to go with the Majority, so that the majority will see you as "cool" and accept you as one of their own? More often than not; these guys are Unacceptable Targets.

Note that the opinion leader's influence may also extend beyond the site's theoretical boundaries. Many internet critics are opinion leaders; as you can see people parroting their opinions about a certain work that they just reviewed on other sites. See also Reviews Are The Gospel for specific examples of this.

This is related closely to certain kinds of Fan Dumb and Hate Dumb. See the "Hipster Fan" and "Hipster Hater", who loves/hates something as long as it's the "cool" thing to do. This may also result in a Misaimed Fandom or two.

The desire to conform is a common one. Many cultures actually do enforce conformity, some more stricter than others. There is also an inherent desire to conform, as proven by several experiments as well as this trope.

In fiction; sometimes this can be a part of The Libby.

Related tropes: Reviews Are The Gospel, Me Too, Cult. Compare Follow the Leader.

--- Examples:

  • The Asch Conformity experiments demonstrates a desire to conform, showing how people state an incorrect answer to fit in with the group.
  • This is actually a common term in marketing. Firms often try to market towards these people to carry their message to the target group. These may also be people who give testimonials about a product.
  • In Diary of a Wimpy Kid, Gregory describes a kid who is one. An example shows an instance where he says "What's that buzzing sound?" and a bunch of people state that they also hear a buzzing sound. The kid then starts laughing because there was no buzzing sound.
  • Any given internet critic, whenever they become popular, will become one of these. Examples include:
  • In Survivor, Rob became this twice. The first time, his alliance decided they needed to get rid of him...and when they were trying to think of a plan, stand there dumb-founded because Rob had done all the thinking.
    • The Ometepes (The ones without brains, anyways) of Redemption Island took this Up to Eleven, literally shutting off their brains entirely and following Rob, being surprised when he voted them out and left the most brainless and most obnoxious to stand next to him.
  • Many cult leaders are this.
  • Real life Libbies are often this trope.
  • You know people like these...don't deny it.
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