Google Blogfest 2013

November 11, 2013

Blogfest 2013

I went to Blogfest 2013 on Saturday. Seeing how Blogfest is an annual conference for bloggers organised by Mumsnet, it was meant for what is sometimes called "mummy-bloggers". Mostly it's called like that by people who try to insult us, because, as I learnt in Blogfest - "mummy" is a derogative word when not coming out of a five years old's mouth. Feel free to disagree. I know I did.
Going to Blogfest was a very big step for me. It was my first blogging conference, actually it was my first ever professional conference. And let's be honest here - I am socially awkward at the best of circumstances. I don't like small-talk, or mingling, or people. I know you think it's because of the English, and my being new to the world of professional blogging and the UK, but it's not. Not that my funny accent helps, but I was bad at all this in Hebrew too. I think if I had to find one word to describe myself best it would be "outsider". I am the one on the fringe looking in. And I like it. But it makes going to events where you are supposed to mingle and make connections a bit tricky.
I knew all this before I bought my ticket (actually Hidai bought me the ticket because I was on the fence for weeks), and still I decided to go. I decided to go because for the first time in a very long while (probably since I finished my masters in 2008) I have a group I actually belong to, and somehow going to Blogfest made it even more real and tangible. Second of all because my biggest fear in this kind of events is having to go alone (I usually make Hidai come with me to everything), but this time I had Jane from Ethan's Escapade and Steph from Steph's Two Girls to go with, so I had someone to hold my hand and I didn't have to be the wall-flower standing alone on the side of the room looking at everyone. And thirdly, because I like Mumsnet. I am not very prone to liking organisations or institutions, but I like Mumsnet. And no, unfortunately they are not paying me to say that. I really don't think they know I exist. Or think my blog is big / important / influential enough to care. But I like them, because I like people who want to change the world. I like people who think we can change the world, that we should. I like people who use their powers for the greater good.
So I went, because I want to change the world too.
I know, I know, being an idealist is like being a... a naive child I guess. Nobody believes in ideals anymore, and who has time to change the world anyway. I have two more loads of laundry waiting. Life is hard enough and busy enough as it is, and idealism is all fine and good but it never pays. It does not put food on the table. That's why I went to the lecture about how to make money from your blog and not the one about how to change the world.
Orli, Just Breathe - Blogfest 2013
Steph, Jane & me on our way (photo by Steph)
So what did I learn in Blogfest?
Well, I didn't learn how to make money from my blog (though I did encounter too many people who money apparently just fall at their feet without them having to work for it).
I didn't meet 330 new people who will now read my blog and will make me either queen or at least a popular blogger, because let's face it when you are socially challenged you are less likely to go around saying "hey, I know we don't know each other but could you please follow my blog so I will be able to sit in the cool kids table?". You are more likely to not even know where that table is.
I didn't ask any wise questions at the panels I attended.
I didn't eat because every break, by the time I found the buffet table all the cakes were gone.
I wasn't brave enough to go up to Professor Tanya Byron to tell her I am a huge fan, or to Stella Creasy MP who talked about stopping internet bullying. I wasn't even brave enough to go talk to Gina Schauffer from Zone agency to see if they would be willing to consider working with my tiny blog.
So I guess I learnt that I am still just me.
Oh, I also learnt that in order to get a chance to win a family holiday from Mark Warner I have to share my top tip for a family holiday with you all. Well, listen up, because here it is - my top tip is plan the holiday according to the youngest person who is going on it. When on a family holiday, the kids rule the schedule and plan. Oh, and a tiny gift per day of good behaviour might sound like a bribe, but it will also what can save the whole day and means you don't have to pack tons of toys from home. And last but not least - mummy day. I explain to my kids that their holiday is my work, so I get one day of everyone doing just what mummy wants...
Orli, Just Breathe - Blogfest 2013
But I also listened to Stella Creasy talk about stopping internet bullying and making companies and people take responsibility for their actions and choices, about not hiding behind the "it's the technology's fault" line that is clearly just a poor excuse for not wanting to take responsibility for your own actions and words; I listened to Professor Tanya Byron talk about how the internet and the technology could change our children's lives for the better if we stop viewing it as an enemy and learn how to use it properly, and about stopping to think before we hit the publish button and ask our kids for their permission before we publish anything about them; I listened to Dr. Sue Black who set up a wonderful and inspiring program to get mums more tech-savvy and show them how technology can change their lives for the better; I listened to a crowd of about 300 women get very angry when it was told we are less worthy as women or mothers because we write "mummy-blogs", make jam, wear high-hills, without a university degree, and generally make "anti-feminists choices" by a panel of other women; and I listened to Jo Brand talk about how far women have come in writing, in stand-up comedy and how much more we have to do.
Orli, Just Breathe - Blogfest 2013
So I guess I learnt that idealism isn't really dead or obsolete, and that even in London of 2013 there is still a long way to go.
I have a child with special needs, I am an immigrant, I am a stay at home mum, I am Jewish, I am a woman. My blog touches all these subjects, because they are all a part of who I am, and every day I hear from women who feel ashamed, less accepted, alone, because they also share one of those points with me. Every day my heart breaks a little more for each of us who goes through the unpleasant experience of being looked down at because we are any of those things (or any other thing). I get asked quite repeatedly why I write under my own name, why I put photos of myself and my family, why I write about Yon's condition so openly. This is why. This is my small way of helping. My hope is that with each of those posts at least one person feels less alone, and maybe others change the way they perceived disabled children, immigrants or women. With each of those posts and photos and stories I hope I am doing my tiny bit to help change the world.
And what I learnt most in Blogfest 2013 is that I am not alone in that.