Note: If you're not a blogger, you may just want to skip this post. It's kinda rambly.
I had an idea for a truly hilarious post comparing BlogHer12 to a wedding all written out in my head. There were so many similarities from the hotel ballroom setting to the outrageous outfits and the heavy drinking of some of the guests. I thought I could even work in a swag-as-wedding-favor angle.
But, in the end, it didn't come out very funny. It came out kinda bitter instead.
And I guess that's because I kinda am.
Having no prior BlogHer conference to compare this one to, I have no idea what it was like once. But I do know that this BlogHer that I went to felt very much like it was split into groups. And these groups weren't separate-but-equal, there groups were haves and have-nots.
The number of private parties, in my opinion, had jumped the shark. Or I guess more precisely, caused BlogHer to jump the shark.
It seemed that a majority of the seasoned bloggers were skipping almost all of the actual BlogHer conference to attend off site events. And while everyone needs to make the choice that is right for them, at some point the conference itself seemed at best a minor side show instead of the main event.
I had made my peace with being one of the masses following the conference agenda and attending the open-to-all parties. I was fine with not having made any effort to join one of the off-site activities - and to be fair there were some private events that were open to anyone provided you signed-up before they sold-out, so it was my own choice not to do this.
But even with my positive outlook, and sticking to the main conference site, there was still exclusivity. At one point I was turned away from the Starbucks sponsor suite for not having an appointment - which let's face it, seems a little much.
On the way to a session, I walked by a private event for a car company with a rep checking-off names on a list. Again, no big deal but at some point it is a big deal. You wonder why you're there, except to add a few more dollars to the BlogHer conference ticket sales.
To read this, I sound like just a whiny blogger. Before the conference there were tons of posts urging bloggers that BlogHer is what you make of it! If you don't have a good time, it's your fault! You can't worry about what you didn't get invited to, life is like that!
And I agree with all that, of course it's all good - and true - advice.
But even so, at some point I think it needs to be admitted that the stratification at the conference had exceeded what would be acceptable to the average, reasonable person.
At some point you have to admit that for a new, unconnected blogger having a good time just is not quite as easy as you make it sound.
In fairness, I must add that despite my cranky tone above, I had a blast at BlogHer. I saw lots of local friends I rarely see even though we all live in the New York metro area, and I met tons of fantastic people. I also got to meet people who I felt I already knew from reading their blogs, and it was amazing to meet them in person.
I got to hear my bloggy buddy Liz of Flourish in Progress give a killer reading at Voices of the Year:
I shared a room with the three best roomies ever, had a great Friday night out in Manhattan, and even got to make s'mores with two of my favorite Jersey girls:
With such a huge number of attendees (over 4,500), and with even more expected next year, I think that BlogHer can be more things to more people.
And next year, I hope they will be. And I hope I'm there in Chicago to find out.
These thoughts are admittedly not particularly well-articulated, as I chose timeliness of publishing over a decent editing effort. I'm totally up for hearing your different points of view about the BlogHer conference experience.