Friday, March 5, 2010

I Love This Community, I'm Scared of Blogher, and Sometimes I'm Just Left Wondering...

So the story goes, a couple of years ago I naively started this blog. When I say naively in some regards I had no idea what I was getting into. Realistically speaking I joined the blogosphere well after it was established. I just thought, I'll write and let's see what happens. If it turned out two years later it was STILL only my mom reading this via email and my group of supporting friends than so be it. I was ready to take on the adventure.

My life at the time had become dominated by motherhood and my career became a distant memory. I had no idea how wonderful and powerful the blogosphere was at the time. I started slowly finding my way around to the most read blogs, but then started clicking on the names of those that commented on the big blogs. I found their writing to be just as wonderful. Before I knew it names became more and more familiar and relationships just naturally formed. It's community building at it's best. I was amazed at how organically I found blogs written by women that I could relate to. Motherhood became enhanced by other's stories.

Most importantly I didn't feel so alone.

From day one, I felt a delineation in the blogging community. There were the blogging homesteaders who clearly arrived first, had a strong community of commenters, and quickly made you feel like another number. Sometimes the writing was wonderful and other times I came back just because it's what you did, you read "so and so's" blog. Then there's other levels, people you read because you're simply entertained. Beautiful, gorgeous cooking blogs. Photo blogs. Blogs you read to become informed. Sometimes you read blogs written by people that you so easily relate to, you feel like you're sitting down having a conversation with a friend. I tried to keep up with the blogs that were most talked about. It's hard work, blog reading and commenting.

Then something odd happens. One day you realize people are reading your words. I'll never forget my first comment from a stranger. It was on a post I wrote about a political bumpersticker. I was in awe and wanted take the woman out to lunch.

After I thought I had my feet under me, a well established google reader rotation, I went and joined Twitter. It's Greeblemonkey's fault, she knows that, but of course I have her to thank for opening my eyes. There was a huge shift in my perspective on the blogging community because of Twitter. It was like someone was throwing a huge party and you may just be in the room at the same time as all the bloggers you've ever read! I've interacted and discovered so many new writers on Twitter. I've also chatted up some bloggers that I commented on for a year straight that never once acknowledge my existence. I love Twitter for broadening my notion of community.

When a community is formed with people from all around the country and even globally, hello my Canadian friends, there's going to be a natural progression for people to meet up. Like in real life, face to face (could be scary, but it's really not). It's in that moment you turn stories, pictures, and words from a computer screen and turn it into real life smiles, big hugs, and sounds of laughter. I've met up with many local bloggers and people I chat with on Twitter around the Denver/Boulder area. I am a part of the Mile High Mamas community and we have quarterly meetups. So far my experiences have been great, but there are other levels to take face to face meetups.

National Conferences.

Blogher hosts an annual conference and it's the creme de la creme of blogging conferences. There are other conferences through out the year that are just as wonderful, but haven't quite reached the popularity of Blogher. As of just a week ago, the pre-sale early bird tickets to Blogher came to a close. There was a buzz of anticipation from people deciding if they were going to attend, people snatching up hotel rooms, making arrangements with roommates, and thrilled with a weekend away in NYC! I just wanted to fast forward to September when the rush of Blogher will be over and I won't feel different.

I'm not attending Blogher for a few reasons. I was just in New York with my family in December/January, I have family in New York which complicates me just stealing a weekend away, August is the busiest time of year for my husband at work, money (want to sponsor me?), and I don't quite feel popular enough for Blogher. I greatly fear rejection at something as grandiose as a Blogher conference. I catch many snippets of conversations of people that are so excited to see their friends at Blogher and I of course envision sitting alone in a hotel room with a box of Billy's Cupcakes on my lap.

What about that community I spoke of? The blogs I've been reading for a few years and the women I feel like I know as friends, what about them. I would love to meet them in real life. But there is a huge barrier that stands between us and that is, many of them have met before. I feel the divide so deep when people chat up one another because they shared moments that I wasn't part of. It doesn't take away the feelings of friendship, it just feels different.

When I really get down to it, sometimes I feel left out. Casual mentions of texting, gmail chatting, christmas cards, phone calls, small packages in the mail, all those things just make me realize that maybe I'm confusing acquaintances for friendships. Maybe that's the true problem for me, I feel like I know someone from their words and stories, but really do I know them? Would they hang out with me if they lived in the next town? If I were at Blogher would they meet me for lunch in NYC, would they ask me to attend a big party with them? Right now, I'll never know.

I'll just continue to navigate my way through the blogosphere behind my computer screen, figuring out how to carve out my place in a sea of so many unknown possibilities.


  1. Psst . . . a little secret . . . Blogher is NOT the biggest conference out there, nor is it the most attended. For some people, it is their favorite, for some the only one that interests them, and for some the only one that comes across their consciousness.

    I've never been, although I am leaning towards going this year. Mostly I haven't gone for the same reasons you haven't, but also because I go to a local conference that feels like "home" to me. Truly. It has just as many attendees as Blogher, but it's free and feels much more like I'm going to hang out with a bunch of friends. And, in this case, many of them really, truly are friends.

  2. So interesting to read! I joined the blogosphere 1.5 years ago, after having only read ONE blog in my life- my friend Kate's (big piece of cake). After starting my own (just sharing photos of my daughter for my family to see) I started clicking around on the links on her blog and started commenting (because I can't help myself - I comment if I have something to say, and I almost ALWAYS have something to say! ha!) So I've never read the big-name bloggers. I only heard of Dooce sometime last year! I swear, I'd never heard of the Pioneer Woman until after she photographed my husband and daughter last year at BlogHer. But I'm getting ahead of myself. When I first of BlogHer - I thought oh how fun! So I talked my husband into joining me - we brought our daughter. And had a FANTASTIC time. I wrote about it on my blog (in like 3 or 4 parts). I am going again this year - SOLO. And I have a roommate - a woman who I haven't met, who lives in India, and whose blog I've only been reading for less than a year. But I am SURE we'll have fun. Your blog has a much larger audience than mine. I like you even tho I don't know you. If I can help you change your mind, and get you to go - I promise to eat lunches and dinners with you!!! Sounds like fun, right? It was, and it will be this year, I'm sure.

  3. I will go to BlogHer when it comes to Denver. And you'll go with me, and we'll stay in a hotel room downtown and party it up. :) I figure if we don't have to pay for a plane ticket we can splurge for a hotel room. LOL!

  4. Denise I love you. Seriously, I've felt the same way since the first BlogHer I ever heard of. I would LOVE to go to NYC, but I'm in the middle of planning and saving for a wedding, so that just won't happen. It's also a nice excuse to avoid those same fears and misgivings you just described. Maybe when it's in Southern California I'll work up the nerve to go. Thank you for writing this. Beautifully expressed. And, for what it's worth, I wouldn't let you sit in the hotel room alone...I'd at least be right there helping you eat the cupcakes ;)

  5. I sort of went last year and I really enjoyed it. I love the people and I LOVED going to Chicago last year. I am excited to go to NYC and see so many of my friends. And I would totally hang out with you if you were to come (you would still bring the cupcakes and share...right?)


  6. I have never been to BlogHer before, and I've met only a handful of bloggers, most of them local, and most of those local bloggers are not going to BlogHer. I'm rooming with a blogger I haven't met in real life, but someone I'm very connected to through words. I know we'll hit it off. I'm scared, sure, and nervous. I am leaving my kids for the first time, and flying to NYC alone. That alone is freaking me out. And then, I'm going to walk into a hotel, with 2000 other bloggers there!!!! SCARY. But... I think it will be so worth it. There are many people I'd love to meet in person - you included - and from I've seen, meeting those people you like online is really awesome. I wish you were coming.

  7. Holy Moly! This has to be the most wonderful post I've read in spoke what I've been afraid to say.
    I kind of feel like a fish out of water too....but very thankful for the community.

    Kudos. Bravo! Standing Ovation!

  8. I am not going either--like you my husband's busy busy time and then there's the whole money issue!
    Top that off with the NYC scares this small town girl to bits and I am staying put.
    I am also a it out of the 'norm'. I see all the tweets on blogHer or the mom summit and I am so out of it. Heck, I still don't know how to do my page count!
    So yeah, I can totally relate to you :)

  9. And, incidentally, I would totally take you out for lunch.

  10. So funny - I was just about to say, you should room with me! But I think I'd have to get in line.

    Christy (above) is the perfect example of the attitude needed to enjoy conferences (this is the meeting planner I used to be speaking). You just have to run in head first and smile. Assume that everyone wants to know you and never waste time looking beyond the people directly in front of you. The people who don't have a good experience and feel left out either let their insecurity get in the way or wasted time wishing they were with other groups. In the end, every social gathering mirrors high school, and feeling unpopular is a matter of perspective.

    This will be my first year at BlogHer and I am really excited. I have no illusions of being recognized for my blog name or being invited to anything that isn't open to everyone - but that doesn't bother me. I'll just make plans to meet up with people in advance and just see where the day takes me.

    So consider changing your mind. The rooommate offer still stands!

  11. Hugs. I'm sorry to hear you're not going to BlogHer. I totally would have eaten cupcakes with you ;-)

    You can still party with the BlogHer@Home girls though. It's a great way to make some connections (I met a ton of new people doing it last year). @masmom and @thepsychobabble are hosting it this year, and they're both great fun.

    Hopefully next year, though, you'll feel like you can go to the actual conference and enjoy yourself.


  12. Yes! Please feel free to come play with us in august! Want to know the truth? I'm not convinced I'm popular enough for blogher either. Never mind being in co-charge of the @home party! Yet, somehow, here I am:) and I'm convinced its going to rock:)

  13. I met so many interesting women at BlogHer last year, beyond my realm of diabetes blogging. It has expanded my blog reading and my mind. So glad I went to expand my own blog topics.

    That being said, I'm a little freaked at going again. It's in NYC where I've never been. (I'm from the Chicago area, which made it easy last year.) And a lot of the time, I think my interaction with others is better online than in person.

  14. I love the honesty of your post. I know exactly what you mean. Sitting in the cab on the way to Mom 2.0 Summit, the two ladies I met at the airport and I shared exactly the same thing - that we knew nobody, and just did it anyway.
    Truth be told, we hadn't actually considered that we didn't know anyone. We just bought the tickets and went.
    While that was a nervous realisation, it turned out brilliantly - this community is just as welcoming in real life as it is online. If you ask a group if you can join them, they will say yes. And they will talk to you. And you will definitely find lots and lots of other women (and men) who are just. like. us.
    I know Blogher is sold out at the moment, but I do hope you'll come along to another of the conferences, and make the leap. I'm really glad I did. And yes, we can all catch a cab/plane/margarita together! Hugs.

  15. Hello Denise,

    You tapped into the emotions of many of us who are attending the BlogHer Conference for the first time.

    I am going to try my best to not let my old insecurities get in the way of my maximizing my trip to NYC and getting the most out of the conference. I think I'll have to write a reminder focus sheet so that I don't get lost in age old insecurities and forget why I am there.

    Like so many of your commenters said, I will throw myself in with a huge smile and feel confident about exposing my blog to the masses, it will sort of be my big debut and I'll try not to blow it by clamming up and become detrimentally shy.

    If only we could partner up and go together!! I have my flight booked and would be happy to show you my the chance you change your mind.

    Twitter me and let's definitely meet next week. Shall we get our little ones together? My youngest boy is five and I have him on Mondays and Tuesdays and he loves little girls!

  16. this is so perfect and so true.

    i am glad to be in community with YOU.

  17. I love your honesty in this post, and I feel exactly the same way. After a year of blogging I've formed some great bloggy friendships and have a few handfuls of blogs I read regularly. I really thought about going this year but my husband just retired from the Air Force this weekend and we don't have another job lined up yet. So, even though I'm originally from NY (living in Utah right now) and I have great friends to stay with and family I could visit there...I'll just have to sit this one out this year, too...sigh...

    But I would totally have lunch with you if I were going :)

  18. What a wonderful post! I am just a wee-blogger with basically zero following but I had no idea what kind of a community exists until recently. I can tell, just being an outsider and obsessive blog-stalker, that there are a lot of different circles out there and have often wondered what it would be like to be a part of them. I think you should GO!!!

  19. Um yes. I would sit with you/hang in your room with you/have lunch with you/beg you to spend time with me in any way. I am not kidding.

    I think (I hope?) every one feels this way. I thought I'd made the biggest mistake of my life last year in the cab on the way to the hotel. I wanted to cry and go home. I couldn't believe I'd wasted my family's money on a trip to Chicago where I truly *knew* no one.

    It was amazing and I had an incredible time. I hope you'll make it one of these years. Otherwise, I'll have to stalk you in CO and that would be awkward.


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