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.
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.