A number of you have emailed and asked me how BlogHer ’10 went — you know, aside from the Martha party, the 5K, and the trip to the American Girl store — and I thought about doing a full recap, but I’m guessing that the majority of you are not interested, so I won’t inflict it on you. Instead, I’m going to share some thoughts that have been rattling around in my head for a few days now.
This year’s BlogHer was massive — around 2,500 bloggers. As someone who does not like large crowds and is not going to dive right in and start networking and handing out cards, I found the sheer size of the conference overwhelming.
Of all the blog posts I’ve read in the past few days and in years past, the people who have the most fun at BlogHer conferences are the ones who run around with a friend or a group of friends — thereby giving them an automatic social group with which to hang out. I spent one day of the conference with a friend and the other one on my own and I can confirm that BlogHer is a lot more fun if you have a friend. Seriously, if you think you want to go to BlogHer ’11, go with a friend. I’ll never go into one of those conferences alone again.
On the other hand, I will say the energy is amazing. To be surrounded by so many creative people who have interesting ideas to share is exciting and I came away with lots to think about.
Unfortunately, my main impression of BlogHer ’10 was how unbelievably commercial it was. From the first minute I walked in, I was absolutely assaulted by advertising, including the signs on the revolving door to the lobby, the lanyard for my nametag, and the back of my room key card. As someone who goes through life intentionally ignoring ads, the constant attack was unsettling. Every time I turned around, there was a new sign to look at or a new table set up and someone encouraging me to take, take, TAKE some of their products. Um, no thank you.
I understand that sponsorship is necessary to bring down the conference costs and I also agree that a little bit of swag is fun. Getting a new water bottle or maybe a t-shirt is a neat way to remember a great weekend. On the other hand, a veritable landslide of stuff is excessive and obscene. It’s kind of like if someone gives you a box of four high quality truffles that you savor because you have a limited quantity. However, if you were given a 10 pound box of those same truffles and then you ate them in a short amount of time, you’d feel sick and the joy of the gift would be lost.
Here’s a quick list of the things I can remember being offered to me: Jello pudding, PUR water bottles, Jimmy Dean sausage, McDonald’s apple slices in little plastic bags (no thanks, I’ll just eat an apple), nursing supplies, faux Spanx, sodas, plastic light-up rings, honey-in-straws, cookbooks, various types of stress balls, tortillas, chips, pens, pads of paper, magnets, USB drives, Weebles, Play Doh, Got Milk stuff, s’mores skewers, candy, mints, gum, coupons galore, various plastic tchotchkes, t-shirts, paint, stationery, mayonnaise, cookies, magazines, plastic food containers, hand sanitizer, mugs, “energy drink” powder, an egg in which you could grow herbs, shopping bags and more shopping bags, granola bars, cleaning supplies, lotion, and soap. That’s just a tiny fraction of what was there and available, if I had been interested, which I was not.
Time and time again, I heard people raving about how much free stuff they had gotten. The unbridled materialism was sickening. Seeing people stand in a long line in order ship their new piles o’ crapola home really bothered me.
Luckily, BlogHer had a room where people could turn in their unwanted crap and that’s what I did with nearly everything. (Except for the package of Kraft mac ‘n’ cheese that I got at the Martha event, because Pete smuggled it into his suitcase and I didn’t realize it until it was too late.) I let my girls collect a couple of small things, but said no to most of it.
Environmentally speaking, BlogHer ’10 was not all that great, in spite of the promises made by the event organizers to improve on last year. There are inherent issues when you get over 2,000 people together in the same location, so I knew that this was not going to be an eco-friendly event; however, there were a few things that could have easily been done that would have gone a long way in making things better. I’m working on a post for Eco Women next week, along with constructive suggestions for next year and will let you all know when it’s up.
Lest you all think that I had a terrible time, let me say that I am glad that I went. I did learn new things in the sessions and came home with lots of ideas. I finally got to meet a dear friend of mine and also met a lot of other nice people, including some bloggers I had wanted to meet for a long time. My family had a great time doing their own thing in the city and, when we were together in our tight little unit of four, we had a fabulous time. And, of course, I now consider myself to be a total bad ass for running in Central Park … while wearing the freaking tutu.
But will I attend BlogHer ’11 in San Diego next year? I don’t know. Pete and I are talking about it — some people here in Jenworld are thinking they’d like to tag along with me and check out, oh I don’t know, maybe the San Diego Zoo or Legoland — but I want to give this more thought.
But tell me what you think: Have you ever been to a BlogHer or blogging conference? Why or why not? Are you thinking about going to BlogHer ’11?