Thursday, August 07, 2008

we are all mythical hobbits

Some things take longer to die down than perhaps they should. Statements were misunderstood. People want to clear the air and move forward. It's human nature, seeking closure. Or maybe it's only dramatic if we make it so. But it persists, which says it must be about something deeper entirely, about the still undefined role of this place and the power it wields.

I've heard a number of people say post BlogHer this year that they aren't sure if they'll keep writing. That the conference caused them to rethink what they are doing and what they want to say. The energy around all of this has been very powerful and we've all got our own ways of handling the various emotions the conference stirred up.

Whether intentional or not, whether widely read or not, we have online personas, some quite akin to our real selves and others perhaps glimmery manifestations, but no matter how funny or serious or sad or angry or snarky or polite or well read or whatever, we have chosen to put our efforts into words that we then choose to share in the most public of all forums. We choose to do this and in the choosing we open ourselves up.

And if we allow for it, it can be incredibly meaningful. But that doesn't mean it doesn't come without responsibility. But to who? The writer? The reader? To thine own self be true? Is that enough? Or is that purely an american anthem about individuality and self-propulsion? I happen to think it's much more than that. I think we are all responsible and our responsibility is in making ourselves understood. Not necessarily liked all of the time, but at least understood.

We've got incredible power in this place. But it only works if we use it to turn the lights up. It only works if we can truly allow for give and take. But it's a choice, embracing this expansion, allowing for dialogue, widening the net. Allowing for compassion and for mercy. For depth. And then moving on.

Because if we aren't trying to be our best selves then what's this all for?

Bookmark and Share


lildb said...

The whole thing is an interesting study of our corner of this incredible tool, this intertubes joint. It's also a fascinating reflection of society under a scope.

It's way too bad that the person who was the major power holder had to try and stomp on the smaller, less powerful person, and even with the revisionism currently happening on the powerful person's end, this is going to continue to create ripples because that person abused her power, and everyone who was there and aware of what was happening recognized it as such.

Shame on her.

It's a hell of a lesson, though, ain't it? This is, unlike celebrity-dom, aka Hollywood, and unlike wealthydom, aka the top 3% of wealth holders in the world, a self-correcting place. There is democracy, or at least a strong potential for such. Sycophants will continue to exist, but there is a much stronger potential for people to speak out against power abuses and grabs and the like.

Power coupled with compassion? And grace? We're gonna get there. Given some time to shake it all out.

Wonderful post, Jen. Thank you.

jen said...

Deb, It wasn't my intent to be critical of anyone. I was using it as an example of saying there is something deeper going on, and since we are acknowledging that, what does that mean? what responsibility do we each take as authors and commenters, and why are we here?

And better, why do we want to be here?

Defiantmuse said...

I'm still working that out, to be honest.

My experience at BlogHer really threw me for a loop. I questioned what I was doing, why I was doing it, the people I was meeting and connecting with, etc.

And even this far out? I'm still marinating it all of it. Slowly sifting through the piles and trying to piece it all together.

I have felt myself pull back as of late though. And I'm not what it will take to feel more engaged with this community again.

thailandchani said...

I think the same rules of engagement are applicable here as anywhere.

Be kind.

It's that simple.

I didn't hear too much about the situation beyond what a few correspondents told me. It was upsetting to hear about because I know people can do better.

Maybe that will be the lesson. Behavior is a choice.

Choosing wrong always gives the opportunity to choose again.


kristen said...

I definitely am changed, but dude, it's all for the good for me. I saw myself in a whole new light and it's been revealing and all that goes with that.

Honestly, if I can achieve this, "we are all responsible and our responsibility is in making ourselves understood. Not necessarily liked all of the time, but at least understood." than I'll be golden.

lildb said...

Jen, I'm sorry if I implied in any way that you were saying anything negative. *I* was, sorta, saying negative things, but only in relation to my sense of how power is so weirdly parsed and how unevenly distributed. Even in this place. I suppose I don't spend enough time thoughtfully considering my own contributions to the quality of the conversations, I don't spend enough time considering whether my words could hurt, whether I have the power to hurt in the first place. I should probably think about that.

You always force me to think. Sometimes against my will.

(I'm still sorta young in the realm of souls, Jen; forgive me for it? -- because I promise to try harder.)

I do need to allow for compassion and for mercy and for depth. Maybe for myself before others. And then maybe when I've finished working out the kinks on those issues for myself, I won't need to focus on the others, because I'll be okay either way?

Ugh. But growing is HARD, Jen! Why are you making me GROW?

(thank you.)

flutter said...

Be the change you wish to see, yes? I will definitely say that this conference made me rethink my direction, but not so much in the " I AM QUITTING!!" kind of realm as much as a be truthful. Be genuine, be what you want others to be to you.

I want to be a good friend.

I want to be a stellar writer.

I want to support and love and hold up those around me.

I want to be a resource and an encouragement.

This conference taught me that I need to worker harder on being those things, and forgetting about the politics of anything else.

love you.

Blog Antagonist said...

Hell, I didn't even go to Blogher and I go through that same thought process all the time.

I won't comment on Blogher itself, because I wasn't there. But in general, large groups of women are not my thang.

But I agree absolutely that we have to be our best selves, not just here in the blogosphere, but in every aspect of our lives. I don't alway suceed, but I strive.

Julie Pippert said...

It's so complicated and dynamic and individual it's impossible to boil down to something simple yet true.

I guess, if I were to try, I'd say we must have the courage of our own convictions along with consideration of others, as people. And then, above all, respect for this as the method of being and doing.

In other words: don't assume intent, investigate (as in ask), allow space for clarification, and I think, in general, allow for difference.

What's troubled me here, recently, is the overshadowing aspect, the judging, the deciding what needs to be done and dissing other choices.

I felt like BlogHer was amazing and I answered old questions and asked new ones. I enjoyed it immensely. It was only later, at the end, after, when things were being said and weird communications that I began to wonder: what happened? did I misinterpret it all? what was real and true? what I experienced? or what others said happened? Or is the biggest part the shadowy unknown between what I experienced and what others did?

It is the shadowy area that gets to me the most.

crazymumma said...

who is heather? really I don't have an idea.

and I'm not being betchy. I really do not know.

But you know. I think, and don't get me wrong here, but you get a bunch of chicks together, chicks who write and all that. And there are going to be feelings and....stuff.

anyhow. I am certain all the hoopla will die down and everyone will get back to writing cause I mean....c'mon.

ahem. walking away now while you all throw darts at my back.

Magpie said...

This brouhaha has been fascinating to watch - I was in that room, I witnessed the kerfuffle, and somehow a whole new story grew out later.

Humans are weird - we're all kind of crazy, we're all kind of making it up as we go along. And the thing is, even when we are our best selves, it's not always "best" to the person standing alongside or on the other end of the room.

But I hope we all do try.

Gwen said...

You know that kerfuffle, as Magpie called it, had nothing to do with my own spot on the should I keep blogging answer spectrum. (the blurbomat thing is just people being people, imho). For me, it's more about how I use my time; where I can do the most valuable work. I wonder if we are reaching this place where we are finally learning to connect in emotionally honest ways. Maybe we are. But then I wonder why so much of that connection has to be through a computer. Why aren't we (you know, the collective we) making those real and honest and true connections in our daily lives? Or why aren't they as meaningful to us? Okay, FINE, just go back and change all those words to refer to me alone, because I can't make assumptions for anyone else.

I guess this, then, is where my head is at. How much should I work to be understood in cyberspace when I'm not sure how it impacts my impulses to be understood IRL with the living, breathing people who inhabit my physical space? And are there other, more pressing things that I need to be doing with my time?

Mad said...

I have no freakin' clue what any of these comment allusions mean. Nor do I want to, although there was a time I would've tried to find out.

I just took a few weeks off blogging and it felt great. I felt like it could be happily permanent. Now I am back and I am in the stew once more. For me, I'm going to do what I like and try not to get so caught up in it all. And be honest and all those other blogery virtues we all go on about.

liv said...

yes, yes. maybe our collective goal is not necessarily to be our best selves, but we still must own our material---be ready, prepared for the rights and responsibilities of it all.

Amanda said...

Bah, I saw so many people I thought I knew in a different light. This is a powerful medium, but it's open to interpretation. I think this whole thing demonstrates how wrong our interpretations can be, through the monitor and beyond.

But you? You I dug more than I ever imagined possible.

Little Monkies said...

This whole ordeal reminds me of the scene in "the Heidi Chronicles" where Heidi freaks out about the cattiness of the women she encounters in the locker room. What the hell has all of this work of feminism been for if we treat each other like shit?

It plays on my post-bullying neuroses, so I can't even engage with the idea of going to BlogHer. I want my feminine energy in strong doses to be about things that are positive (which I am sure they are where...) and not about things that are related to bullshit power tactics.

Power is a heady intoxicant for people, especially people outside of the dominant group who have limited positions of power to attain (my feminist therapist had a lot to say about this one), but I really think that this artifact of our repression stays with us all to much today and serves to keep us in shitty positions scrapping over leftovers. Makes me insane.

God, I'm so off of your point...sorry Jen. This just strikes a big chord with me.

I'd come to BlogHer to meet you, but only if you'd meet me at the dive bar down the street so we could sit outside and chat.

Little Monkies said...

P.S Could I have said "shit" one more time in that post? Ha!

Amy said...

I like your post because it:

a) does not contribute to any "web drama" and because it

b) poses a question for discussion among your readers and peers.

I choose to look at all of this as an interesting exercise in social psychology.

Amy said...

(P.S. That was me, Assertagirl Amy, who's experiencing technical difficulties with Blogger...)

Momish said...

Intentionality is a very powerful thing to examine, especially when dealing with the written word. I think you hit the nail on the head Jen with regards to responsibility, compassion and openness to all things positive.

I honestly don't know what this drama is all about, not having been at BlogHer. But after reading the link you gave here, I can infer that misunderstanding was rampant. Regardless, if the intention and responsibility one has is towards a positive outcome and to help everyone rise above, then it should work out in the end for all invovled. If it is not working out in the end, then someone's intensions are misaligned (in my opinion opnion).

Why are we here? My simple answer would be to make MY world a better place. "Meeting" people like you and reading inspiring posts like yours so far has made that a reality. If the world becomes a better place, that is a bonus.

Momish said...

I wish there was spell check in comments. Then I would look less like a dork. I meant "in my own opinion". Speed fingers get me every time ;)

Velma said...

Amen, sister.

sam (temptingmama) said...

I wasn't at BlogHer. I didn't witness this said 'altercation' first had. I did see it via video. I have heard (or read) both sides and honestly? I think it's all completely blown our of proportion. Ridiculously out of proportion.

Jen, I really enjoyed this post! I am just so over this whole thing.

Denguy said...

I don't know what's really going on, but I agree with this: we should "truly allow for give and take".

Maggie, Dammit said...

Precisely. Bravo.

Whether it's blogging or at work or within our own families, we all need to learn to harness our power and funnel it into good, not evil. Period.

Susanne said...

Needless to say that I didn't get any of the hoopla whatsoever. But. I think that thinking about whether to continue blogging or not, and thinking about how to do it is part of the thing as such. It often feels a bit weird, and as with any artistic endeavour you're constantly questioning if it's worth your time and energy.

I'm with flutter though I'd settle with "adequate writer" instead of "stellar".

Jennifer H said...

I wasn't at BlogHer, and I wasn't aware of that particular drama, but the stories that have come out of that weekend didn't do anything to make me want to go next year (I was sure I wanted to, before).

One thing that's hard to see in this medium is how we might behave in a group. The cliques aren't so obvious. The influence of nervousness and excitement and even alcohol (usually!) don't play a part in how we communicate online. But I would imagine that how women behaved at BlogHer and afterward is not much different than how those women behave in their lives, when in a group. That has to be a recipe for disappointment in some ways, but a nice affirmation when you can meet women whom you like and want to know better.

I'm rambling, but I think there are a lot of reasons why we blog--wanting to make sense of our lives, wanting to share them, attention, knowing that someone will tell us we're not crazy. And about a hundred other reasons. I'm not sure we can expect everyone's reason to be the same, but the fact that there are so many kinds of bloggers gives us a lot of choices about who we read and befriend. The blogs I read are varied, and each offers something different, and I love that.

Kyla said...

I think BlogHer was altogether great...makes me wonder if I'm wee bit naive!

We should all try to be the people we want to be, good people, using our voices for something positive whether we are behind a screen or not.

Ruth Dynamite said...

There IS power in this space - the power of expression and sharing and rawness.

The real power lies with voices you can trust. Like you, Jen. You are clearly trying to be your best self and helping us do the same.

Tabba said...

i just read through all of this, having read cryptic posts about Blogher this year, and i just wonder 'what in the hell is going on'?
and on one hand am glad i missed it.