the writing and photography of Neil Kramer

August in New York

I’m going to attend BlogHer again. It is my only chance to see so many of you, and it is important to me to have some real life contact to make my blogging “real.” Last year was a lot of fun, but I still have this nagging feeling that I don’t really belong — and that it might be time for me to expand my horizons. Maybe next year, I will look into SWSX, or a conference that isn’t so gender-based. But I appreciate that I was accepted so readily by everyone, as if I were one of the girls.

(Danny, if you want to argue why I shouldn’t go at all, please do! Maybe we both should go to SWSX!)

I am excited that the conference is in New York. Last year, Amy and I submitted an idea for a “room of your own” on Storytelling. We thought it was a good idea because there were no real sessions on writing.

This year, I am glad to report that there is a whole writing track, with several sessions slated.

Currently, my blogging mind is less focused on my writing (which really bothers me) than on figuring out what my online experience means to me — and whether it is even healthy.

That’s when I thought of this new “Room of Your Own.” — Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Whatever — The Online Addict’s One Hour Support Group. I didn’t see any other session that deals with this problem. Of course, I would like to keep this discussion on the funny side — hey, we all know what I am talking about with this issue — despite the seriousness.

This idea comes out of a personal need to engage in this conversation rather than an overwhelming need to stand in front of a bunch of bloggers again who want to fight with me. I’d be just as happy hanging out with a few of you in Central Park and talking about this issue.

I hate the popularity contest aspect of these rooms, but if you want to vote for the room, you can do so here. (if you have any suggestions for improving the concept, please tell me)

The proposal —

Blogging, Twitter, Facebook, Whatever — The Online Addict’s One Hour Support Group

Blogging is a lot different today than it was a few years ago. It has become more than just writing or career development. It has become a 21st century of making friends and establishing relationships. But with this wonderful development comes a whole new set of 21st century social issues and anxieties, one of them being that our online life frequently BECOMES our life.

Are you an online addict? Take this quick quiz:

* 1) Are you writing a blog post in your head while making love to your husband?
* 2) Have you accidentally called your three year old son “Guy Kawasaki?”
* 3) Does “enjoying quality time with friends” mean playing Words With Friends on your iphone?

Is there a point where our online life becomes TOO MUCH?

We all love our blogging friends, but have you ever asked yourself, “Who are these online friends anyway? Are they our real friends if we only see them once a year at BlogHer? Are we neglecting our old friends at home because it is “easier” to deal with virtual friends? Have we spread ourselves too thin on so many social media sites? Is it even possible to follow 1000+ people? Who should we care most about? Influentials? Readers of our blog? Community members in need, even those that are strangers? When does “caring” about each other become unhealthy?”

The truth is more of us quit blogging because of this personal issue than anything to do with our writing or the branding of our blog.

Since this session is run by bloggers, not trained psychiatrists, we can’t give any professional advice, but as bloggers, we can discuss our feelings and responses to this growing problem, as well as share our solutions to keeping our sanity in a virtual world. Participants will learn methods of reducing their information overload, as well as analyzing various ways to improve the quality of their online relationships — without it taking over their lives.

14 Comments

  1. furiousball

    when you get to BlogHer, be sure to give Jen Monroe a hearty smack on the ass. hearty, i say.

  2. sas

    i scored 2/3 in the quiz.

    for shame.

  3. All Adither

    I had to think about it long and hard, but I’m not going this year. It was fun. I liked connecting. I liked the free shit. But it did nothing real for my career or my writing. Maybe in 2011.

  4. V-Grrrl @ Compost Studios

    I think you should do SXSW instead.

  5. Danny

    I wouldn’t “argue” with you about it, but I remain fascinated why you’d want to go. Maybe I’ve got too many issues with acceptance and rejection, but I can’t imagine attending an event that was specifically “not for me” even though I’ve read that BlogHer welcomes its male participants. And since I’ve never attended, I really shouldn’t share my other weird feelings about this event which is the over-commercialization and the obsession with alleged A-List Star Bloggers. Yuck. Truth be told, I’m just a horrible “networker” and I can’t imagine attending BlogHer or ANY blogging conference. (Which is why I’ll never be an A-list blogger!) But go in good health, I look forward to your reports!

  6. Heather

    I kinda wanna copy Danny’s comment and paste it here for my own. I feel the same way. I’ll never be in the “in” crowd, and I don’t want to be. I want my relationships online to have some meat to them, and actually mean something. I want to foster something within my own life, and in my reader…(I’m just not sure what I’m fostering at this point…) 😉

  7. mommymae

    i hope to see you there & have a drink with you, neil.

  8. Juli Ryan

    I voted on this room. I don’t think I will be at BlogHer, but I still voted. I’d also like to go to SXSW. Maybe next year. (Unless you all fund me.)

  9. muskrat

    I bought my ticket last night. I’m looking forward to hanging out with you again and meeting all your warm and enthusiastic readers. Make sure you wear a coat with tails.

  10. Mel

    I’ll be at BlogHer. What I love about the conference is that you can make it your own. I had a great time, met people who mean the world to me, and skipped the parties to go out to dinner. I think it’s partly what the person brings to the conference in what they get out of it. Not to get all preachy and preschool-y about a conference. But I do get my panties twisted when people talk about the over-commercialization of it. It’s a choice to engaged in that side. You can also go and have a completely non-commercial time.

    I wish Heathersebi was going because then I’d get to have dinner with her.

  11. Heather

    I totally agree with Mel. I think I look at it differently because this past year, I didn’t have a conference ticket, and I basically just hung out with my favorite people. That being said, I won’t be going this year, I don’t think. I’d rather take a really awesome vacation with my husband, or go meet a friend in San Diego. Maybe next year. 🙂

  12. Major Bedhead

    I’d go to that session, be it in Central Park or at the conference itself. It sounds fascinating.

    I’m about as far from an A-list blogger as you can get and I had a blast last year. Yeah, I went to Sparklecorn, but only lasted about 5 minutes. I met a lot of cool people and was intimidated as hell by the A-listers but that’s MY hangup and lack of anything resembling balls. In fact, I saw you downstairs by the river walk and was too chicken to come up and say hello.

    I think it’s a fun conference. I got a lot out of it and look forward to this year’s.

  13. Hollywood Farm

    I too am a blogger who doesn’t belong. Hug up my boots for a while waiting for that gust of inspiration to come back.

  14. Hollywood Farm

    Not back, just browsing!

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