Well, it’s happening already. The deconstruction of BlogHer ’09 and this years Drama Du Jours is in full force, and once again I am reminded of why I skipped this event for several years. I prefer my drama to be of the “he touched me!” or “she called me a name!” variety, you see; and while technically I suppose BlogHer presents opportunities for that sort of thing, as well, it’s a lot easier to swallow when it comes from adorable minors rather than people who are supposedly adults, you know?
I’m already reading posts about this, about how a few proverbial rotten apples are spoiling it for the rest of the bunch, and there are valid points to be made. I’m no fan of the poor behavior, the swag-grabbing, the drunkenness, or even the karaoke (I mean, I suppose the karaoke is harmless, but it’s loud and annoying and not why I go to a conference). And while it’s nice that BlogHer brought in Tim Gunn and Paula Deen and Carson Kressley, I saw none of them and don’t really care. They are not why I went.
So rather than another rehashing of what sucked or what I thought was wrong or bad or dumb, I will tell you why I went this year and what I did that I think matters. In case you care. (If you don’t, that’s cool, too. Here, have a thumb drive as a lovely bonus gift. I have about a dozen.)
For the last couple of years, I have skipped the main BlogHer conference and elected only to attend BlogHer Business. This year—with the two conferences dovetailed together, and the Business conference lasting only half a day rather than the two days of yore—I figured as long as I was there, I’d attend part of the main conference as well.
[Digression: Why do I attend the business conference? Because I'm running a business. While many people blog "just for fun" and I think that's fabulous, I blog HERE just for fun, but I also run my own LLC as a freelance writer, and at any given time have about a dozen active clients. This is what I do for a living. It does aggravate me to no end, though, when folks want to assume that THIS BLOG is what I do for a living. This blog is what I do instead of therapy. (Okay, sometimes I do it IN ADDITION to therapy. Details.) Anyway, I've always enjoyed the business conference as a networking, expertise-building exercise.]
BlogHer Business was a very different creature this year due to the change-up in format, and that’s probably an entirely separate post that I won’t bore you with for now. But I did feel it was a worthwhile learning exercise and I made some valuable connections.
Now. The main conference. In many ways, really just not my scene. By the time I was saying goodbye to people at lunchtime on Saturday, when asked why I was leaving early, I automatically responded with, “I’m all done.” Because I was; I’d had enough of the noise, the crowds, the stuff that wasn’t so great, etc. I skipped off to the airport, positively giddy over the notion of sleeping in my own bed, enjoying the silence, and not having to wear mascara the next day.
ON THE OTHER HAND, had I not stayed, there are things I would’ve missed that I’m glad I didn’t.
I would’ve missed having a really interesting conversation with some PR folks after the “Bloggers and Brands” session, where I learned about the shocking behavior of some of my so-called fellow writing professionals and had the awesome opportunity to clarify that there are plenty of us who do not conduct ourselves in that manner.
I would’ve missed the Community Keynote session, which—and I don’t care who you are or where you came from or what you think your goals are—was one of the most powerful and moving displays of kick-ass writing (for all the right reasons, too) that I’ve ever had the honor to witness.
I would’ve missed the “Marketing to Women of Color” session, which not only showcased four of my favorite savvy ladies but was incredibly educational in a multitude of ways. I am still mulling over some of what I learned there.
I would’ve missed meeting some amazing women and getting to know others even better, even though I feel like I did about as little socializing as was humanly possible at an event of this size.
[I also would've missed hordes of people going completely NUTS over my hair. The first few times I felt like, "Wow, this is fun, I look awesome with my hair straight!" After that it devolved into, "Sheesh, I guess my hair looks like crap when it's curly." Heh.]
I’m glad I went. I’m glad I’m home. And I won’t go back next year.
Now, the truth is that I won’t go next year because the timing won’t work for me; there was no decision to be made. I simply can’t make it. But the other truth is that I’m immensely relieved that it’s off the table as a possibility. Even with skipping out on most of the parties and all of the drama (so far as I know), it was exhausting.
And now the blogosphere will spend the next however many days (weeks? months?) bickering over the bad behavior and the apparent missteps and that’s fine, I guess, but I’m all done. I have work to do, a family to tend, and a stack of business cards to go through to thank folks for their time.
I realize I’m pretty boring when it comes to this stuff. I’m also perfectly okay with that.