Close up Hands Tea x

Sit a bit and hear some observational stories I’ve been steeping.

Blogher ’11

There is a line in This is Spinal Tap that is one of my all-time favorite quotes.  It’s the one where Nigel Tufnel talks about how they turn their specially crafted amplifiers up to 11 (while all others only go to 10) in the event, “… we need that extra push over the cliff.”  This weekend, I got my own personal “push over the cliff” at this year’s BlogHer Conference 2011.  As someone who compulsively writes into a cyber vacuum every week, it was nice to be surrounded by over 3,000 of my fellow bloggers, and feel that gentle push over the cliff, to keep moving forward.


If you have the chance to attend any kind of gathering of your “tribe” I would highly recommend you do it.  Whether it is a gargantuan gathering like a conference/convention or a smaller group – there is nothing like the positive energy in a group of like-minded individuals.  Since this conference was attended by primarily females, there was also nothing like the chocolate driven energy provided on nearly every flat convention center surface (Dove Chocolate, Dove Bars, every corner of the S’mores Suite, etc.)  Yeah, there was a whole lot of endorphins wandering the halls of the San Diego Convention Center these past few days (I cannot vouch for certain which hormones filled the hallways a few weeks prior at Comic-Con 2011, but I’m going out on a limb here and say it might have been testosterone).


Anthropologists use the term “tribal society” to talk about groups of folks organized largely on the basis of kinship.  Any time you have the chance to gather with peeps who think like you, it is a pretty good thing.  It bolsters the group, makes them stronger and if you share a meal or a pot of tea I’d like to think happier, too.  But, we have to work at, and seek out, our “tribal” members and this is not as easy as it sounds for some folks.  Back in 1985, a cross-section of Americans were asked by a group of researchers how many confidants they had the most common answer was: three.  Less than a decade later the answer from 25% of those polled was: zero.  One is the loneliest number that you’ll ever do.


At the University of Chicago, Psychologist John Cacioppo found that isolation and loneliness affected stress hormones and the circulatory system adversely; increased the risk of suicide (young or old); impaired efficiency of sleep, along with a host of other issues.  Mother Teresa said, “The most terrible poverty is loneliness, and the feeling of being unloved.”  We the People, need socialization.


My son has a developmental disability that leaves his socialization skills and ability to interact in any kind of “tribal society” a bit off the mark.  Autism is considered a Pervasive Developmental Disorder (PDD) that affects the central nervous system, which inhibits social, speech and learning skills.  As the woman who loves her son as only a mother can, I can honestly tell you that the quirky behavior that often accompanies autism makes it more than a little difficult to gather tribal members.  My son has a great desire to be “part of the crowd” but the crowd doesn’t always respond to his advances.  As a result, the computer fills the need he does have to interact with others.  Mark Zuckerberg, thank you for helping people connect and share via FB, if I didn’t think you seemed slightly adverse to it, I’d hug ya.


As a whole, human beings are wired to interact with others.  Even my son, with his wonky autistic wiring wants to make contact, but goes about it a little alien-like.  No matter!  All of us can, and should, push forward to find our community – our network of people to exchange information with.


There are those who dismiss the onslaught of social media as superficial.  That’s too bad.  Because I can tell you that some of the happiest people gather on Facebook and Twitter.  Sure, there are some angry fingers slamming away on keyboards by some terribly unhappy individuals out there (relax, I’m not naming names here – at least, not today) but, by and large, you’ll find most posting and tweeting has happy content.  Why?  Even by the glow of a computer monitor, smart phone or pad/tablet…those faces are lit up by the connection made with other human beings.  Earlier this year a survey revealed that 47% of Americans use social media.  There may not be a lot of face-to-face time involved, but there is interaction.  There is a meeting of the minds.  There is socialization.  Not conventional socialization, mind you.  But socializing is happening, nonetheless.  Even my son, with his resistance to social interaction, is happier and more grounded when he has his clan to connect with.


As for me and my tribe?  These past few days we gathered in groups.  We listened to the words of our elders (or younger, yet more experienced leaders).  We bonded.  We feasted (boy, did we feast).  Our souls were nourished and we’ve moved over the mountain, having gotten that extra push over the cliff.


So, don’t be so quick to snub social media and the bloggers* out there waiting for you to discover them.  To read many of these writers is to sit down with a friend over a cup of tea or glass of wine (*cough cough* Jen Lancaster) and a chance to get to know them better by their words.  Almost all of them give you the ability to speak up, too (via comment link under each essay/article), email or through Facebook and/or Twitter.  No, it isn’t the same as sitting down to a meal or over a campfire, but for this 21 century tribal society – it serves a purpose.  It is, after all, called social media for a reason.



*Ooh!  Allow me this quick shout out to —

the QC Report, Jennsylvania, JustAddFather, CJaneCreate, GingerMandy, TheTypeAHousewife, RussianHillLife and more to come

One thought on “Blogher ’11

  • Hello! I met you at BlogHer. We sat at the same table during the freelance writing panel discussion. It was great meeting you, and I look forward to following your adventures on your blog. Cheers! -Kristina Doss

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