Last Saturday, I spent the day at BlogHer11, otherwise know as The Event Wherein Way More Estrogen Than Should Legally Be Allowed to Convene in One Place, Convenes in One Place.
Women kind of scare me, to be honest. I never joined a sorority in college, and the majority of my friends in high school were guys (half of which I ended up dating. Yep, I was that girl). I feel more comfortable interacting with those of the masculine persuasion. They tend to be more direct, less catty. I can’t handle catty. I’m a dog person.
So it was with great trepidation that I entered the San Diego Convention Center, where I was sure that everyone would take one look at my “FearlessFormulaFeeder” name tag and either laugh in my face or smack me. I’m not egotistical enough to believe that more than a handful of my fellow bloggers are even aware of FFF, but the website’s name is pretty self-explanatory.
There were a few things I didn’t stop to consider, though. Like the fact that my NAME was far more prominent on my badge than my Twitter handle/web address, and my name isn’t Formula, it’s Suzanne. The font used for the BlogHer nametags was pretty tiny, and considering we were all women with lovely lady lumps, it was difficult to stare at someone’s tag without looking like a pervert. So I had that going for me. Also – and this was a revelation – there are blogs out in the blogosphere that aren’t mommy blogs! There are fashion bloggers! Special needs bloggers! Coupon bloggers! Photography bloggers! Food bloggers! Blog bloggers!
I was ignored, for the most part, and if there was any desire to smack me, it was kept under (Maya/Mobi/Becco) wraps. I only had one negative interaction, and it wasn’t with a blogger, but a vendor.
Vendors of a variety of products frequent these convention, lurking in the Expo Hall, and sometimes (not so)surreptitiously lounging around the free breakfast (this Warner Bros dude sat at my table for about 40 minutes before realizing that he was in the wrong place. Unless his studio is planning an epic 4D adventure about breastfeeding… come to think of it, I bet that would be a hit…) Down where they belong, in the Expo Hall, the product reps give you freebies, and try and get you to do product reviews/promotions on your blog. I gathered as much free stuff as I could – ice cream bars, coloring books and crayons for the Fearless kiddos, tupperware…they were even giving out vibrators. No, I’m not kidding. Blogging conventions are sexier than you might think.
So anyway, I was wandering around the Expo Hall, politely listening to pitches so that I could score some swag, and I encountered an organic paper company. Their stuff was cute, and I was actually interested in it, so I listened intently to the rep’s schpiel about planting trees for every order, and so forth.
And then she asked what I blog about (cue the surreptitious glance at the name tag attached to my chest). Without thinking, I blurted out “formula feeding”.
Oh man. You should have seen her face. “…And breastfeeding!” I quickly added. Because, well, I do spend a lot of time discussing breastfeeding on here. Probably if you did a keyword search, the word breastfeeding would come up just as much if not more than the term “formula feeding”. I wasn’t lying, but it was kind of a brat move. I wanted to see if her expression would soften.
“Well, which is it?” she snapped. As if there could be no universe where the two subjects could cohabitate on a blog peacefully. “Both,” I said sweetly, and stood there. She gave me a sideways look and turned her back, leaving me with nothing more than a sample pack of paper cards (which, incidentally, seemed inherently anti-environment. I don’t care if the card stock was made from recycled diapers, it’s a waste when you hand out 25 unusable sample cards with other people’s names/photos/invitation copy on them. They are guaranteed to end up in the trash, er, recycle bin) and my dignity.
Guess I won’t be giving away any organic paper products on this blog. Sorry to disappoint, FFFs.
Still, the overall experience at BlogHer was positive. Where else could lactivist bloggers and formula feeding bloggers (er, blogger, singular) snack on mid-afternoon hummus, side by side? Where else could you see a beautiful AP goddess making her way through a wine party at 11pm, nursing a toddler (I honestly have so much awe for people who can nurse on the go, considering I have a tough time walking and chewing gum) as she walked towards the dessert table, and have a childless fashion blogger step aside in awe of her earth-mother power? Where else could I have learned that it’s not only formula feeding bloggers who receive hate mail and nasty comments, but also kickass women who let their 5-year-olds dress up like Daphne? (The cutest Daphne I’ve ever seen, by the by…)
Seeing each other in flesh and blood is interesting. Many people were cuter in person than I’d imagined, others were older/younger/weirder/cooler. I got confirmation that many bloggers are incredibly uncomfortable in social situations. But overall, everyone was oddly polite. It’s one thing to be opinionated and critical behind the safety of a computer keyboard, another to talk sh_t when you’re behind your arch-nemesis in the taco line. There’s that old internet adage about only saying things online that you would say to someone’s face, and BlogHer brings that to a whole new level.
I’m not saying everyone sat around singing Kumbaya. It was still divisive, and like stayed with like – I stayed with the skeptic/moderate/blogosphere pariah crew; most of the moms wearing sling babies stuck together (and many brought husbands. I could learn a thing or two from these women. My husband would never agree to follow me around a blogging conference like a glorified sherpa). And considering I could only scrounge up enough cash for a one-day pass, I am barely qualified to weigh in on the festivities.
I did have a revelation, though: I don’t really consider myself a “blogger”. I didn’t feel legitimate, surrounded by all these incredibly savvy social media pros. I started blogging because I was lonely, being the only formula feeder in my social circle, and pissed off at the inaccuracy of the information I’d been given about breastfeeding. I never thought about FFF as a business, or considered taking ads, or gave a damn about SEO.
That has to change. I’m realizing more and more that what used to be a single voice in the blogosphere has now become a mere cog in a rapidly evolving wheel. Formula feeding support is popping up everywhere, and while I think this is a beautiful thing, I also know that I need to step it up a notch to stay relevant.
On the other hand, I don’t want FFF to lose its focus or its voice, nor do I want to lose mine. That has become a fear of mine, due to recent events which I unfortunately can’t discuss (yet). So I promise you that even if I start taking this blogging thing more seriously, the worst that happens is you see me being more self-promoting around the interwebz to drive more traffic here; I may have to change the titles of my posts to please the SEO gods; and if anyone is ever willing to be associate with us near-do-wells, I might accept some advertising (hey, if Best for Babes can do it, so can I).
And thus concludes my obligatory BlogHer11 post. Consider it my lame attempt at “pledging” the blogging sorority.