As you may know (because I haven’t stopped talking about it for weeks) last week I attended the BlogHer conference in San Diego. I dragged myself out of bed at 5:00am and made it to the airport a full two hours before I normally wake up. I danced. I washed plastic dishes in the sink. I attended amazing sessions and met amazing people.
I am not going to list the amazing people because, well, I’m sure to leave someone out. But if I met you for the first time at BlogHer, I can tell you that it was likely one of the highlights of my trip.
View from my hotel room balcony
I had heard mixed reports about BlogHer prior to attending, and I honestly had mixed feelings of my own. I received several emails in advance inviting me to stop by booths in the Expo Hall, and I’d heard lots of reports of attendees grabbing every piece of swag they could get their hands on. I also heard a lot of words like “overwhelming” and “crowded”. I was a little bit afraid that I would get swept up in the current of rampant consumerism in a way that wasn’t comfortable to me.
Lunching with the Green Moms
The truth of my experience was very different. I loved BlogHer. It was one of the most amazing experiences I have had in a very, very long time. It was absolutely worth the tears as I walked out the door of my house, the early morning flight and the work crunch I’ve been in since I got back. I would go through all that again in a heartbeat, with no reservations.
Me and Michelle, my Toronto buddy
I’ve been struggling to sum up what was so amazing to me about BlogHer, and it comes down to community. At the conference, I was among my people. Whether I was listening to them speak during some amazing sessions, or crying at their words during the Community Keynote, or chatting with them at a party, I felt that these were people who had a shared experience. We are bloggers, which is a terrible word, really. It just sounds awful. But what it means is that we write our hearts and our loves and our experiences and share them with the whole world online.
Hanging with my fabulous roommate Marilyn
Being in that community made me want to be better. It made me want to use my voice more effectively, advocate more strongly, write more skillfully and connect more deeply. It took an abstract concept – the internet – and brought it to life – these people here in this room. And the best part is that they were people I was proud to be associated with. They were genuine and friendly and awesome and real.
Loralee entertains Karen and Alexis at dinner
BlogHer is big. I heard some 3600 people attended in San Diego, and there is no way that we all came to the conference for the same reasons, or had the same experience. But I actually see that as an advantage, rather than a liability. Because the conference was large I was able to choose what was most appealing to me from a wide array of options. As well, the organizers were able to attract speakers who may not have attended a smaller conference – people like Indra Nooyi, Fatemeh Fakraie, Carol Jenkins and Ricki Lake. I was able to craft my own experience, and walk my own path.
Not the best picture, but I was sitting within spitting distance of Ricki Lake
Before I left for BlogHer I was keeping my expectations measured. I hoped that the experience would be mostly positive, but I tried to be reasonable and recognized that there would likely be low points, as well. Now, one week out, I am gushing, and I hope to attend BlogHer next year in New York. I feel that it has re-energized me, re-focused me, and reminded me that I may be sitting by myself at my kitchen table right now, but I am not alone. I am part of a much larger community, and we are awesome. That’s pretty much the best gift I could have received.
Have you attended BlogHer, or any other blog conferences? What did you think? And are you planning to attend BlogHer ’12 in New York next year? I’d love to hear!