The Forces of "Her"
Hawking cultural records? Pushing an agenda (but on whom?)? I can't decide where to take blogger Heather Armstrong's comments as I sit here reflecting on my abbreviated (only spent a day) BlogHer conference experience last month in San Francisco. Armstrong called blogs our cultural record, our carbon foot print on the internet. Paired with the tremendous energy of some 800 or so women, I'd have to say the energy felt more like we were a cultural force.
But are bloggers really a cultural force? Or are we crispy creatures living in the perfect storm of self expression, medium and economic means, ultimately empowered to effect emotion or change with our words and images which can...catch fire across the internet? A lovely example was blogger Beth Kanter's story which she presented in the Tools for Online Fundraising session. I'd grazed by her blog a handful of times and had seen her Cambodian campaign in passing, but I never delved in. Thankfully, now I can. That permanent (cultural) record thing. Click, click, click. David and I were searching for an organization in Cambodia to make a donation to as a wedding gift for our friends (bride is native to Cambodia).
The BlogHer chicks suggested we put together something like the above as our calling cards. They sweetly advised that we NOT talk about our blogs when asked as, "just a personal blog that I write." So I reached down into the well of "why" and found the "responsibility" apéritif. And I'm not talking a Saturnian kind of responsibility here, but rather that my blogging was starting to be rooted in a desire to do for others by "singing their unsung songs"and raising awareness. Sure, there's a bit of ego in it, but I think for me that's not the ultimate driving force.
To nail down my M.O., I tweaked a business card about who I think YOU are- no disrespect intended to all my red staters and international followers! I think you're mostly foodies...dessert is, the one thing I do fairly consistently. Believe me, with more bandwidth I would give more to the other passions! Most fascinating was, it wasn't apparent from anyone I met that anyone cared about what kind of audience anyone else had. I felt strangely outnumbered (and smugly happy) that I wasn't a "mommyblogger," trying to compete in that galaxy of storytellers chronicling how their children are growing up. There's nothing wrong with it mind you, but I still can hear an animal a mile away crying and not hear children melting down at the same party I'm at (happened a couple of weeks ago).
On the other hand, I was definitely daunted by the sheer hordes of food bloggers present. I'm definitely dancing in a crowded space on this one- thank Goddess for dessert porn. At least in my eyes, a pomegranate cream eclair has further to go sensually speaking than any lemon pesto cream chicken...or something like that.
BlogHer was an interesting amalgam of women of all kinds (approximately 97% of the attendees). Everywhere I looked there were babies, strollers, breastfeeding (sometimes by session attendees, sometimes by session presenters-during sessions). It was wildly refreshing. From a few quick glances at the guys I did see, I couldn't tell if they had discovered paradise or were simply shopping for new gal pals. The pitch of conversation was up high in a female voice range and at first, I wasn't sure how I'd endure. But it got better. Everyone was welcoming and friendly.
I think what I came away with was a sense of community- it's there should I need to reach out. Cohorts are always on call, just pixels in the ether waiting for those causes around which to unify and...assimilate? She is there. Her. The collective entity, the cultural force. I'm with Her, Baby!