There’s a story that’s pretty infamous in Hollywood from the early days of the new millenium — one fledgling young studio head at the top of his game dropped trou in the middle of a crowded industry party and received service from a young agent…and I’m not talking about packaging fees.
Okay, fine: She might not have been an agent, but the rest is true and I really wanted to use that joke. Point being — I heard that story as an intern back in college and as I’ve come up through the film industry I’ve heard it repeated over and over again through the years; I’m pretty sure it’s even been published in a tell-all book or two. It’s never exaggerated or embellished because the truth makes a good enough story as it is. Boys behaving badly. Good for an anecdote. Great for a laugh.
I was pretty sure I was done talking about the behavior of business owners who happen to be Moms at business events, but then I kept reading more and more on it from my colleagues, and the more I read, the more I started to get this feeling that we’re just digging ourselves deeper and deeper, and so naturally, what else was I to do but grab a shovel?
There’s this idea building momentum in the “momosphere” that we Moms who blog have brought the mockery of the mainstream media (and others) on ourselves with our own bad behavior. There’s this idea that if we’re to be seen as professionals we’re not allowed to have any fun. And there’s this idea that we’re all one amorphous mass that speaks and acts and behaves badly as a cohesive unit.
With all due respect, I think those ideas are poppycock.
Yesterday here on Babble Voices, my colleague Cecily Kellogg wrote:
After the BlogHer conference last year, where I saw some blogger behavior that frankly appalled me, I felt frustrated by this newer competitive atmosphere. As a blogger that focuses primarily on personal storytelling (or, as I like to call it, self-centered naval gazing), I missed the sense of community and camaraderie that was what made me fall in love with blogging in the first place and frankly, I think it’s gone for good. Blogging is a business now, and that means we need to define the standards for our behavior as business people. Hence the crossroads: we are changing from community to business, and we need to begin acting like businesses.
My experience has been different. I didn’t start my personal blog, The818.com, until well in to the Mommy Blogging phenomenon — early 2009. The atmosphere of blogging had already shifted from small and personal to oversaturated and profit driven. Although I began blogging as a New Years Resolution to write daily I would unexpectedly conceive my daughter and lose my job in the week that followed, and so the notion that you could make money from blogging came into focus rather quickly for me. By the time I attended my first professional blogging conference, BlogHer 2010, I was already fully briefed on the stories of women elbowing babies in the head over party swag, which raises all sorts of questions about swag hags and babies and parties, but more importantly, I knew what I was getting myself in to. I went alone. No buddies, no sponsor, no moral support. I was unemployed with a family to feed. I hadn’t flown to New York on my own dime for a Slumber Party. I was there to find opportunities that could make me money.
And I did. Sure, I think I saw some poor sap get trampled by extreme couponers in search of free bleach, but I can honestly say that my career as a professional blogger began at that conference, and has been propelled forward by each and every conference I’ve been to since then. I also had the time of my freaking life. I met women who have become some of my closest friends and confidants. I met women who have become my colleagues, bosses, and partners. I’ve even met some business savvy men. In between the meetings, the roundtables and the parties, I have found an incredible community.
Stephanie Schwab of Social Media Explorer also took these issues for a spin this past week. I respect Stephanie very much, but I vehemently disagree with what she had to say.
Why do bloggers, at nearly all of the blogging conferences I’ve attended, not act like they’re businesses? I do realize that if you started your blog as a personal blog or hobby blog, you may not know how to run your business, or even want to run a business, for your blog. But if you’ve spent the money and the time to come to a blogging event, it indicates that you’re looking to learn and grow in some way. (And apologies if you’re at the conference but do not want to grow your business though given that much of the content at Mom 2.0 and other blogging conferences is related to “monetization” and “sponsorships,” I have to assume you likely do want to.)…
So ladies: stop acting like the Wall Street Journal says you’re acting. Because guess what? Some of you are. Start acting like the business people you (mostly) seem to want to become. Because if you’re not becoming business people by attending these conferences, then you really are doing it just to get out of the house. And then I don’t blame the WSJ for calling a spade a spade.
Let’s get back to that bold young Movie Executive for a moment, shall we?
Setting aside the fact that he’s a dude so it made him a legend, the incident didn’t imply that every single person at that party had been publicly fellated. I bet there were people at that party who only heard about it later, never the wiser to the hijinks happening just across the room. Whether they were Meryl Streep or Lindsay Lohan, no one collected any less Oscars or BAFTAs simply for having been in attendance that night. These were adults at an event for adults where two adults got a little carried away. It didn’t make the offender any less brilliant. (I’ll note here that his partner in crime was a young actress with strong blood connections and she STILL hasn’t been heard from since, but that’s a whole other post.)
Since 2010, like my colleagues, I have watched the conference circuit expand exponentially, and with it, more and more communities have formed together and joined up under the banner of blogger. Maybe some of those communities are made up of entrepreneurial whizzes on their way to six figure sponsorships. Maybe some of those communities have no interest in monetizing their hobby blogs at all. Maybe those communities are made up of serious professionals with serious weaknesses for swag and alcohol. It doesn’t really matter. Calling out an entire community based on the bad behavior of a few is how stereotypes are born. Maybe it’s time we stand as individuals and stop contributing to our own stereotype.