It was another fabulous BlogHer conference in San Diego. Nearly 3,000 women bloggers convened for one kick-ass weekend. So what's new this year? What were the learnings, trends, themes? Let's find out.
Theme #1 - Writing your story helps you know your story
"Real confidence comes form knowing and accepting yourself - your strengths and limitations - in contrast to depending on affirmation from others." Judith M. Bardwick, sociologist.
Every year at BlogHer I notice certain themes. Vulnerability came up in several sessions, as did how much to share or not share. Brene Brown made so many profound statements including, "Nothing makes you more vulnerable than being a mom." With so much judgement out there, why do we feel the need to share? A panelist summed it up best when she said, "Healing is in the telling of the story, not the reaction to it." It seems seeking acceptance from ourselves is more important than seeking acceptance from others. In another session a woman noted, "I don't know if I write my blog or my blog writes me." I heard story after story of women who discovered themselves through their blogs. I think this is unbelievably cool.
Theme #2 - Unplugging vs. Plugging in
In past BlogHer conferences, it was all about the new technology and how to be more plugged in. This year, many women were talking about how to unplug, and step away. Gwen Bell really hit a nerve with her session - Unplug, Unfriend, Unfollow, Unwind: Is That Sacrilege? She asked the question - have we traded in the problems/stress of the workplace for being available 24-7 through technology? (I'm paraphrasing, she said it much more beautifully than that.)
It's a great point. I think while the tether of an office was short, you were able to untether at nights and weekends. With a more virtual workplace, we have longer tethers, but never get to take them off. Have we traded one set of problems for another? The jury is still out, but finding ways to unplug and disconnect was a new priority for many at the conference.
Theme #3 - Indra Nooyi rocks
The absolute highlight of the conference was a keynote interview with Indra Nooyi, Chairman and CEO of PepsiCo. Sources told me she agreed to only three appearances this year, one of them BlogHer '11. It was an honor that she graced us with her candid views, knowledge, stories of her background and raising two daughters, and running one of the world's biggest brands. Trust me when I tell you Indra was keeping it real. What an amazing woman. If we had more women like her in power we would have the world's problems solved in, like, a week.
Theme #4 - Did I mention Indra Nooyi rocks?
Theme #5- On the edge of glory
In the closing keynote with Ricky Lake, Fatemeh Fakhraie, and Carol Jenkins of the Women's Media Center, we learned that despite all our progress, we still have so far to go. Watch the video for the grim statistics.
Yes, traditional mainstream media has done a crappy job of including and sharing women's stories and voices. Why does this matter? Because the filter through which we receive news has a huge impact on how the stories are told. Here's a great example from Twitter of the same story told through two different filters...
But here's why I think there's hope - The Internet is the great democratizer. Millions of women's voices ARE heard around the world. The power of women bloggers continues to grow exponentially. Women bloggers are changing the world one blog post at a time.
Perhaps the biggest takeaway I took from Blogher 2011 was this....there is hope. I do believe we are at a tipping point, a change point, a crucial moment in history.....on the edge of glory. (Yes, BlogHer this year came complete with flash mobs)
Which leads us to Theme #6 - Women bloggers can DANCE!
Women bloggers are making a huge difference in their own lives and the lives of men and women all over the world.
Shake your tail feathers ladies. Shake your tail feathers.