If I thought I’d have to stuff all my observations (and raves, and epiphanies) about this past weekend’s BlogHer conference into one post, I’d never be able to actually write it. As it is, I’ve had the durndest time even getting this far. There was just so dadgum much to take in, so much to digest.
And I am mindful, too, that blogging about blogging and bloggers talking about blogging can be a bit, oh, tail-chasey. Even for bloggers themselves, or blog readers with a high tolerance for blogular self-referentiality. I could cue those who aren’t so interested to nod off, and promise you I’ll wake you up at the appropriate moment. Which is NOW!
Because geez, if ever I doubted the power women can wield using the internet, and are wielding right this very instant, I surely was convinced of it this weekend in San Francisco. I think the impact of this is just building up below the radar, simply because the whole phenomenon of online community and its translation “offline” or in the Real World is still only beginning to become widely legible. Yet this event (this year just the fourth annual) makes it impossible not to see. On the subway ride back home, after the conference ended, I found myself just mind-boggled.
Rather than try to weave all the thoughts and feelings into a coherent essay, I will at least try to stuff some thoughts into bullet-points, just to start getting them out. So:
• There is enough “bandwidth” for everyone. I think. Which makes civil disagreement (as our moderator Lindsay strove for, in the MommyBlogging as Radical Act panel) a whole hell of a lot easier to engage in.
• Unvarnished honesty can never be overrated. Anyone doing that nearby will always inspire others to do the same. At least I hope some of Maria’s rubs off on me.
• Regardless of the commercialism that may be fast approaching (/overtaking/distracting from the original motivation for) many women’s online conversations, it is not going to overwhelm the powerful impact of women’s sharing their lives with one another. I’m just really thinking that nothing ever will. Regardless.
• This medium — weblogs, specifically — is unprecedented, in that using it, one can, with access to a computer (and computer literacy) and little else, essentially smuggle one’s thoughts (and fears and hopes and so on) into anyone else’s head. What we do there is up to us, but heavens that’s a big deal. Especially when one gets the opportunity to see about a thousand of those “anyones” in person. And then one multiplies that by a factor of however many of us are all doing this to/for one another. In and out of the limelight.
• In particular (inspired by the readings at the Community Keynote the first night): Women sharing stories, on this scale, with this degree of public intimacy, feels utterly unprecedented. What we all go through in this life. Some of us live to tell the tale, and have the courage to tell it. And in the telling, essentially, perform mouth-to-ear resuscitation to more people than we will ever know. I was stunned at what Mr. Lady and Casey did for a thousand women, over the course of a combined ten minutes, tops. It’s hard for me to even put into words, but I needn’t, I suppose, since they already did. What they and so many of these readers did (like Yvonne). All of which, I know, is replicated all over the place.
• This medium makes our shared humanity really very hard to overlook. We can open up and listen online in a way that’s just unique. We wander over and sit down next to people we might never approach in the physical world. That can be bracing in an icky way (as I mention here at the conclusion of the 2006 Weblog Awards voting melee), but it can also be bracing in an exciting way. If we stay listening long enough, inevitably we all of us will become aware of some point of commonality. And when we wrap ourselves around that connection, and let it soften and open us — all of us — in unexpected directions, we take the first steps toward what we’re all supposed to be here to do, if you ask me.
• Over and over again, back around it came finally to: you — yes: you who are just now reading these words — you are not alone. And while we’re at it, you are deserving of love. Now think what we’re all going to be able to go and do, armed with that knowledge.
At one point in the two days of BlogHer I found myself trying to convey to someone an anecdote a friend told me a long time ago. Her parents were divorcing, and once, when her father was pulling out of the driveway, her mother darted down after him, planted her feet, brandished her fist, and called out “Power to women!” Just because.
Well. I hereby invoke my friend’s mother, plant my feet, brandish my fist, and renew the battle cry. You doubt the power that umpteen million women have? Just c’mon over here and listen through the door, and find out for yourselves.
* [added a bit later in the day]
For eloquent corroboration, please sip some of Mr. Lady’s fine whisky.
**[and then the next day]
And for yet more, please check this review sheet on Mom-101.