Last year I attended the annual Blogher conference in NYC, my first. I posted about it the day after and I still feel strongly in my conclusion that Blogher is whatever you make it to be.
I went to Friday of the conference this year and I do want to speak of the experience but cautiously, very cautiously. Because for me this year felt totally different and although not terrible, I am not putting 'different' into the 'better' category.
Let me say this; I do think tacking on a conference that entails the gathering of three thousand women at the end of a three week journey may have been a bit much. I feel like I entered the space already exhausted, not energized or enthused about blogging. And Blogher is really about just that, women blogging. The conference has grown exponentially and with it the topics, the numbers and the sponsers. There was a lot going on and information and people speeding by at a rapid pace. And stuff, so much stuff.
There was also a few intimate moments meeting the ones I love to read and know online and letting their physical person take shape in my life, getting that hug and learning little bits of information that rarely slip out online in our measured blog posting and twitter clips. But when these things happened in the quiet of a hotel room or at the edge of a pool, both places not technically included in the conference space, well, that was when I have to question just why I am there.
I found the pace and information and the sheer seas of people to be too much for me this year. I found difficulty staying in it and wanting to stay in it and I actually ended up leaving Friday evening, calling my lovely husband who was juggling the boys that day and asking him to grab me early and bring me back to our little rental cabin thingy where the boys were wreaking havoc and there was a horizontal space to lay my head. I did stay to see the one part of Blogher that I think remains true to the initial spirit and purpose of blogging, the Voices of the Year speakers.
I listened to Bon and Kate read and then listened to other women speak their written words and cried and laughed (hard) and then cried again. That part will always be like that, I think. That part is the reason why I read and sometimes write in today's blogging world. You should read that part, and you can here, but man, it was good to hear the words spoke clearly and purposefully by their creators.
I did attend the Thursday night parties which were low key, except for the seven feet in heels drag queens wandering the halls.
I did wander through the Expo hall where the sponsors set up booths to entice and engage the bloggers. For me it was definitely zoo-like. The Jimmy Dean sun guy from the commercials was there, there was a lot of sausage, some free Dove bars .... a lot more, oh lord, a lot more. I think so far as I dig down into the bag of swag which followed me home, I have yet to find anything that I would buy, endorse. I did get a free copy of this book by these ladies, the book went promptly to my newly pregnant friend and I do hope it is a help or at least a laugh as she navigates this new part of life.
I think what I am trying to say is that this year I realized Blogher is not for me. I don't believe I will take my dollars, hard earned that they are, and direct them towards another weekend next year. Not because there is anything fundamentally wrong with Blogher or sponsers, not that there is anything wrong with me or the way I choose to blog. Mainly because we are not a great fit, Blogher and I. I would rather hoard those dollars so that on some future weekend I can travel to new place that holds old friends where there is no session schedule or party to make but just people and tea and couches and drinks. All the laughs and fun that happen at Blogher but scaled down to just the people and not why they blog or if they make money or do it right but instead what they love and believe in and plant and think and do.
I will say, there was a great moment where I received a detailed description from this lovely woman about how to bale hay and dispose of feral kittens and that was pretty cool (please say that like Miley Cyrus as you read those words because that is how we use them around this household and it makes us laugh every time).
But hell, who knows, now that it is NYC again I might just use it as an excuse to travel, not buy a ticket and just crash people's hotel rooms.
Adios to another Blogher.