As soon as we sat down, tears streamed down her face. At the last event of Blogher Food 2011 Saturday night, the 40-year old, successful food blogger had asked if we could talk privately. We found a room upstairs, away from the throbbing dance party music.
“Some of the women at the conference are so mean,” she said, wiping away tears. She had met them before, yet they walked right by her without acknowledging her. Feeling overwhelmed, she said she’d rather be home gardening, or spending time with her children.
“It happened to me too,” I said. I was talking to a Famous Person when another Famous Person came up and discussed who they were inviting to dinner. Right in front of me.
And just like that, we were two high schoolers again. We desperately wanted to be adored, part of the in crowd and part of the cliques that gather. We wanted the cool people to notice us. We wanted to be cool too.
Feeling bad about her state of distress, I said most of the people at the conference felt the way she did (resisting adding “aside from a few clueless rude people.”) We’re all in a stressful situation, even though we’re thrilled to be there. That’s why we gather. According to the BlogHer Food folks, the number one reason attendees come is for the “community.”
But we don’t know all these people, and we’re not used to gathering like this. Who’s used to spending 15 hours a day or more with 500 people you hardly know? Who’s used to other people evaluating whether you’re worth sitting next to, talking to, rooming with, or inviting to a private event? It’s easy to get annoyed.
Even though I’ve attended writing and culinary conferences for more than 10 years (see liveblog of my session on recipe etiquette at BlogHer Food), I can’t always escape the anxiety that