June 8, 2004

An Incomplete A to Z of Blogging
B is (also) for Blogmeet

Not to be confused with blogmeat. We don’t talk about the cannibalistic branch of the family. It’s a filthy habit.
I love blogmeets. That’s a strange thing for me to admit, considering that I’m known for my social-phobic tendencies, and therefore the idea of thirty or more people – many of whom are often complete strangers – being brought together in the same claustrophobic surroundings is usually enough to bring me out in a cold sweat and a nervous rash.

That’s not to say that blogmeets don’t bring me out in a cold sweat and a nervous rash, because they invariably do. But with many bloggers being so observant and well-read, they’ll already be acquainted with my social-phobic tendencies and can therefore comment openly on them within ten seconds of meeting me for the first time.

A Blogger: Meeting this many people must be nerve-wracking for you. I can already see your hands are shaking. Are you nervous?
Me: Yes.
A Blogger: And will you be writing an entry about tonight’s bout of nervousness in your blog when you get home?
Me: YES.
A Blogger: You’re quite a snappy conversationalist, aren’t you?
Me: YES!

(To be fair to myself, as well as to any other bloggers whom I might be scaring off ever approaching me at further social occasions, the above example is taken from the first few minutes after my arrival. Give it half an hour and too many gin and tonics downed in one, and you’ll already be my beshtesht beshtesht fwiend ever. I wuv you. You’re gweat, you are. You’re bwlliant. Yes you are. Don’t argue. You’re shtupendous, you are. Ooh, I do feel a little bit ill. Hic).
However, it’s the social constructs of blogmeets that fascinate me. It’s not only the fact, as illustrated above, that upon meeting someone whom you’ve never set eyes on before, you immediately have something to talk about (particularly if you’ve done your homework and perused their blog that same morning). There are also the strange introductions, of the kind you’d otherwise only hear at dull sales conferences – a greeting such as “Hello, I’m Vaughan from Wherever You Are” sounds like it should be followed by: “And here’s one of our brochures. You can find our stand over in the exhibition area, where one of our representatives will be only too happy to show you our latest product range.”
There’s also the guilt trip factor, where you spend much of the evening getting on famously with a blogger whose site you have to shamefully admit to never reading, but promising that you will do so from now on. Whether or not you keep your promise is another matter.
And finally, of course, there are the mysterious bloggers who stay away (even if they have an entirely good reason, like living on the other side of the country). The shy, retiring ones who never set foot over the threshold of the pub chosen for the latest drunken bloggers’ meet-up. The ones who, quite frankly, wouldn’t be caught dead at a blogmeet. They’re the people who get whispered about in corners, in close-knit huddles: “Have you ever met so-and-so? Do you know them? Do they ever come along to these meets?” Often, there’s a solitary person who has actually met them in real life, and is able to provide tantalising but sketchy clues about their character – like the fact that they’re a six foot three trapeze artist of Finnish parentage, with a talent for juggling raw fish.
The awesome social power of the blogmeet is such, however, that sooner or later these absentees have to choose between increasing levels of paranoia about being discussed, or shattering their air of mystery by making an appearance. (After a desperate internal struggle I chose the latter, because I’ve got enough things to be paranoid about).
Going along to your first blogmeet? Not sure that you’re going to recognise anyone? Scared witless that you’re going to have to stand in the middle of the world’s busiest pub and shout “Excuse me, is anyone here a blogger?” – whereupon you will be greeted by blank, open-mouthed stares or, even worse, looks of disgust from people who think you’re suggesting something improper? Yes, me too. Well, from years of experience, my essential tip is as follows. Look For The Gadgets. If you see a bunch of people with their laptops connected to their mobiles so that they can blog live from the pub (what larks!), or using their digital cameras to take photos of their PDAs, then you’ve struck gold. Oh, and it’s your round, too.
Above all, however, remember that most bloggers are completely normal people. Just like you and me. Although, come to think of it, we’re probably not very good examples, are we? Er.


6 thoughts on “An Incomplete A to Z of Blogging
B is (also) for Blogmeet

  1. I’ve met Vaughan. I can vouch for the fact that he is as normal as any other blogger. Which isn’t saying much.

  2. I will get to a blogmeet one day. Promise.
    It just has to be on the one day of the year I’m not committed by family, friends, charities, the rest of the known world, to something else.

  3. I have met Vaughan.
    I believe I managed to convince him that I was entering the Guardian blogging competition because I was practically a whore and would do anything for money…shortly before Belle de Jour won.
    I think one of the other aspects of blogmeets like the FJ Christmas party is that you can be in a room packed with people who you know vast amounts about, but you have no idea who ANY OF THEM ARE until they tell you.

  4. And since that fateful evening, *nobody else* has approached me to tell me they’re a whore and will do anything for money.
    And believe me, I’ve started enough conversations in the hope that they would.

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