Are you going to BlogHer this year? Although I’m not a veteran, having only attended the last two BlogHer conferences in New York and Chicago, I am perfectly willing to call myself an expert in any arena.
Many bloggers choose to blog as their primary means of expression because they experience some level of social anxiety. By gravitating towards a media that allows them to be honest and open and emotionally vulnerable, yet protects them with the safety of separation via a computer screen and occasionally anonymity, bloggers as a general are not the most outgoing people in real-life situations.
This means that the crush of 3,000 people squealing in excitement as they see their friends for the first time in a year amid the palpable wave of estrogen can be really overwhelming to many people, veterans and first-timers alike. It can be easy to feel alone or left out or even brushed aside, but most of that is about your perspective. This could be the most fun that you’ll have all year, or it could be the most miserable mistake that you’ve ever made – it’s all up to you.
Here are some tips that might help:
- Don’t see cliques where they don’t exist. While bloggers as a whole are not socially outgoing, when it comes to those few people with whom they’re comfortable, they can band together. This is not high school again, and this is not a group of the cool girls snubbing anyone else. These are people who are just as socially nervous and awkward as you clinging to what’s familiar to them.
- Take the initiative but have something valuable to say. If you see a blogger who you enjoy reading, go up and say hi. Introduce yourself. Talk to her and share a little of yourself. And be aware that it will be a quick conversation. Every blogger there will be pulled in a hundred different directions at once, and in no way does that devalue your input or experience with that person.
- Leave the negative attitude at home. I said this in my post about BlogHer 2010 last year, but I think it bears repeating. Whether you’re the type to whine and bitch about the men present at the conference or the drinking that goes on or the breastfeeding or the swag or the lack of swag or the exclusivity or the private parties or Nikon eating babies, shut. The. Fuck. Up. There is literally something at BlogHer for every type of personal blogger out there. Whether you’re married or single or gay or straight or a teetotaler or an alcoholic or childless or barren or fertile or Christian or Jewish or Muslim or black or white or yellow or purple, if you have the right attitude, you will walk away with something positive. And wouldn’t you rather come away with something positive rather than focusing on the few aspects that annoy or piss you off? I know I would.
- You’re beautiful. The memories that you’ll make during BlogHer will last you a lifetime, and if you hide away from the ONE KAJILLION cameras that will be everywhere, you’re only hurting yourself. It may not seem like it, based on the number of times I post naked pictures of myself (and the business cards I’m bringing this year with even more nudity), but I’m quite camera shy. I’m not comfortable with my weight (or worsening hair loss) yet, and I hate the thought of being in a thousand photos where I haven’t had control over the angle and how I’ll look. This isn’t about that, though. This is about celebrating yourself and your friends and your words and knowing that nobody cares what you look like, so just relax and have fun.
- See what you want to see, do what you want to do. There is no way that you’ll see every session and go to every track. It’s okay. Don’t let yourself get bogged down with your schedule. Pick one or two sessions, a ROYO or two, and the community keynote – these are your must-attends. For everything else, just play it by ear. If you’re tired or you want to lay by the pool or go out to lunch with a new group of friends, it’s okay. You’re not missing out on anything if you’re fully invested in whatever you’re doing at that moment.
- Don’t mispronounce my name, because I will mock you mercilessly.
- Come find me. My cell is 818-398-2079. Text me, come say hi, buy me a drink, and we’ll talk. I’ll be in San Diego from Wednesday morning until Monday afternoon, and I rarely bite.
Relax. Take deep breaths. Escape into your room for a few minutes if you need it. But have fun and enjoy the experience that is BlogHer.