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BlogHer Book Club Reviewer
July 30, 2010

BlogHer: Parts of a Whole

BlogHer. Blah. Grr.

People, there's no wrong way to do it (unless you're being a total douchewhore, in which case, knock it off).

If you're having a panic attack about your wardrobe, don't be ashamed. If you're not having a panic attack about your wardrobe, that's cool too. If you believe that she who collects the most swag wins, good luck with that, but be nice about it, eh? If you want to brag about your party invites, I hope you find a bragging tribe that will listen and give a crap. In the wise words of the former Cat Stevens: If you want to dress up, dress up; if you want to attend the Voices of the Year Gala in your p.j.s, by golly, do it. BlogHer is what you make it, but remember that this is true for everyone else there (or even not there) as well.

So please, have your feelings about it, but don't begrudge anyone else her right to feel her own feelings--good, bad, or holier-than-thou indifferent--and to even share those feelings on her blog (of all unlikely places!). No matter what happens at the conference, some people will want to bitch and moan and some will want to show off and some will want to talk smack and some will want to monetize their brands and some will want to pretend they're above it all, but hey, who cares, right? People will have different expectations and experiences of the same event, and THAT'S OKAY.

(And if you want to post or tweet about how annoyed you are with everyone else's BlogHer posts or tweets, fine, whatever, but check yourself to make sure you're not being a dick about it.)

Me? I like BlogHer. I like sitting with my friends. I like swag. I like visiting big cities and staying in nice hotels. I take notes at panels on things I care about. I feel a rush when I share an elevator with someone "famous." I worry about my old, frumpy shoes when I'm packing but then I forget about them once they're on my feet so long as they're comfy. And when it's all over? I like to report back here and share my thoughts, from my perspective, with anyone who's interested. I don't thrive on drama, so I rarely attract or even notice it. I generally enjoy the conference sessions and the food and the accomodations and the company, and if not, I don't react as if some personal injustice has befallen me during what was supposed to be My Special Perfect Bloggy Trip. That doesn't mean I'm softheaded; I'm just prioritizing the things worth getting riled about. If I pass one of the organizers in the hall, I don't complain about the snack sponsors or the demographically inappropriate room drop; I tell her thank you. When I get to the front of the long-ass registration line, I smile before I speak. I tip the cleaning lady even if she left a spot on the bathroom mirror. I don't go looking for things to complain about.

Likewise, if you don't like the pre- and post-BlogHer chatter, don't read it. If you don't like swag, don't take it. If you didn't get invited to a cool party, it's okay to feel bad about it, really, but try not to let it ruin your weekend. And don't let anyone else ruin your weekend by telling you that feeling X, Y, or Z about 1, 2, or 3 is "wrong." If I'm feeling anxious about something, the least helpful advice is "You're dumb to feel anxious about that." Reassurance is one thing ("Don't worry! You'll be fine!"), but dismissal is another. And this goes for the positive emotions too; if I'm excited about the conference/swag/parties/people, I'm not going to let someone shame me into silence.

(I'm trying to be zen about the whole thing, but it's probably obvious that this post is inspired by having entertained bad feelings in past years when I see people dismissing things--wardrobe angst, sitting-alone angst, party angst, even the basic need to discuss the weekend in general--that were very much a valid part of my experience, for better or for worse. It's one thing to say "Don't worry about your shoes! You'll look fine and people will like you regardless!" but it's another to say, "If you're worried about your shoes, you're a shallow fame whore who doesn't understand the true spirit of blogging." And if I have an "OMG, I sat at a table with so-and-so and so-and-so" moment? I'd like to be able to share that with people who will get a kick out of it and without the fear of someone stomping on it as immature. Can we all just take a deep breath and keep our judgements to ourselves? ("Judgements" being distinct from "opinions" and "reactions" and "feelings," of course.))

I truly think as long as you're being respectful and authentic (in the original sense of the word, not in the "performance authenticity" style that's become so popular in some circles), that's all you need. In that way, it's almost like BlogHer is real life! Imagine that!

In conclusion: This is your conference, and what happens to you there is--good or bad--no one's responsibility/fault but your own. Even if you want to feel jealous or angry or offended by something, don't feel shy posting those thoughts so long as you're coming from an honest place (she says as if she were the blogging world's moral compass even though she's very aware that she isn't).

There are going to be 2,400 people at the conference. Twenty-four hundred people. Twenty-four hundred egos and spirits and hearts, each fragile in its own way and each perfectly entitled to its own opinions, experiences, and insecurities. That's 2,399 chances someone will see things differently than you. We all call it by the same name, but it's not One Big BlogHer, it's 2,400 little BlogHers. Let people have their own experiences. Let me have mine.

22 Comments

Oh, I hope we get a chance to meet next weekend! See you there!

I'll be the one with the shabby shoes singing "Love One Another."

I skipped to the bottom because of my anxiety.

So, you won't pretend that you don't know me, right? I mean, sure, yeah, it's true that you don't know me, but I totally commented on your blog here and there and so it's OK if I pretend to be your BFF so I can avoid hyperventilating?

I mean, this is me going out into the REAL WORLD with REAL PEOPLE and stuff.

If only this were some sort of sci-fi comic hero convention, I could dress as SpiderMan and hide behind the disguise.

You'll totally recognize me!! I'll be the one who's talking too loud and trying to act like I'm not nervous!!

You are obviously very insecure about this whole thing. And for that, I judge you. Judgey judge judge.

All will be forgiven when you bring me video of you and Angella showering together.

Preach, sista! Well said.

THIS is why you're my friend. And why you're roommate. It really is of what we make of it, so let's make it good, right?

I couldn't agree more! I'm not going and I don't have a blog, but I really enjoy reading blogs. It really bothers me to see all these, "it's so dumb to worry about BlogHer" tweets and posts because I know for sure if I was going to this conference for the first time (or even the second or third time!) I would have some anxiety about it and would want to blog and tweet about that anxiety. Let people have their own feelings about this big social (and professional) event.

May I skip the entire point of this (perfectly written and delightfully commonsensical) post and ask about hotels and tipping for cleaning staff. Is it still done? At all places - Motel 6 to Ritz Carlton? At B&Bs? How much? A percent? A flat amount?

Hope you enjoy BlogHer. I'll enjoy reading about it when you're back.

May I skip the entire point of this (perfectly written and delightfully commonsensical) post and ask about hotels and tipping for cleaning staff. Is it still done? At all places - Motel 6 to Ritz Carlton? At B&Bs? How much? A percent? A flat amount?

Hope you enjoy BlogHer. I'll enjoy reading about it when you're back like I always do.

Alyce--I don't know what the formal etiquette is, but my dad has always tipped hotel staff when we stay at the same place for more than just a couple of days in a row. If we're on a long vacation--like ten days--he'll tip some after the first two or three days (incentive!) and then again at the end. It's never a ton, but I do think it's nice. And the fact that it may be wholly unnecessary these days makes it even nicer. It's fun to be nice.

Wow. Looks like you feel rather strongly about this. =)

Wish I could go to BlogHer... I think.

This will be my first Blogher. I am looking forward to going.

man, i wish i could see/meet you again. sadly, i won't be there this year. maybe next year? i can touch your beautiful blonde mane.:)

I know nothing of Blogher, but I like your whole take on judgment. We all live life in our own way. Let us experience it, talk about it, live it, and don't judge us for our ways. I like being apart of a community that feels the same, even if we never meet...

Wow - 2,400 people?! I had no idea. But I am kind of sad I will not be one of them. So many people (like you) I want to meet!

Yaaaaay! This post made me want to stand up and clap. (Really, 2400 people?) It's going to be so much fun.

I am trying to get through my nerves by focusing on the happy hour on Saturday which is my whole reason for going in the first place, I am excited to meet my fellow Style Lushers. :)

Well I was very nervous to come to BlogHer this year because I'd never been. And I only came for Saturday, so I felt a little late to the whole party, but I left feeling like everyone was so nice and eager to meet each other. People smiled and said 'hello' in the hallways! Not something this New Yorker is used to. I only met you briefly at the StyleLush party, but since we're being open I'll confess I was nervous to meet you too because your writing is so good and you're just so logical and, I dunno.

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