I was in Laguna Niguel, California at the Mom 2.0 Summit from May 2nd to May 5th. Now, before you worry that this is one of those annoying conference posts that cheers RAH! RAH! while telling you nothing of import, I swear this is not one of those. Unless you don't give a fig for the state of women, social media, and the health of Us. I hope you do, because this is the future we're in, baby, and the water's fine.
Also, this might be long-ish. Get coffee.
The conference was held at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel, which was undeniably ritzy.
I am one of those people who opens her suitcase, pulls out every last item, and then proceeds to throw each article across different pieces of furniture. My brain calls this "organizing my outfits", which is hilarious, because I don't have outfits. I have black, black, and more black occasionally broken up by a pattern on black or a brown shirt. Aaanywaaay, I exploded my suitcase, left the room, and when I came back, everything was folded square and placed neatly back in my suitcase.
The staff at the Ritz-Carlton Laguna Niguel are incredible. They are beautiful and friendly and will hang your thong underwear delicately from the bathroom doorknob if you are the kind of blogger who might indelicately leave your thong underwear out in the middle of the bathroom for your roommate's enjoyment.
Which I am not.
Okay, I so am.
I miss Suebob already. She was the best roommate.
You maybe don't know this, but I'm afraid of flying, so I distracted myself on the way to the conference by making fun of a giant children's toy at the Calgary airport. Who couldn't, though?
As you can see from its plaque above, the toy is in memory of Punch Dickins, a bush pilot who flew a Fokker through Regina. The jokes just write themselves, and I'm sure that that toy must defile the minds of thousands of children every year.
I apologize for my immaturity if Punch was your uncle or something. I'm sure he was a lovely man.
Anyway, I got on the plane, I made my peace with my place in the universe and the things I have done in it, and then I survived again, as usual.
My mind, it brings on the drama.
The conference was a string of gorgeous events from the opening party to the last,
with meals under palm fronds in sunny, oceanside courtyards,
and, well, the OCEAN was there, but all of that natural beauty and the posh environs were not what made Mom 2.0 Summit a success.
Whirlpool made me lusty after appliances and avocado pesto over pasta.
What made Mom 2.0 Summit such a success was the dedication of both its founders — Laura Mayes and Carrie Pacini — and the conference sponsors — Dove, Honda, and Lowe's, to name a few — not only to the social media and marketing end of things but also to truly meaningful engagement and social good.
This was what I found in my conversations with the attendees, as well. While we had honest discussions about our desire for professional growth in social media, most of those discussions also included ideas about how we can incorporate social good into the work we do. Sure, it was nice to get free gift bags of a company's product, but we also wanted to know how that product, that company, or our relationship with that company would work towards bettering the world we live in.
I've watched blogging and social media grow and change over the last ten years, and, at least in the parent blogging communities of which I am part, all childlessness aside, it is growing up into a fine, fine thing. The people I met were mindful and focused and inspired to contribute both to the communities they inhabit and the world at large.
Gone was the childish elbowing for swag for which bloggers have been criticized. At Mom 2.0, I saw attendees, sponsors, and film and television personalities, such as Kyra Phillips and Amanda Peet, engaging with one another on more equal footing, watching and listening and figuring out the next steps through this medium together. There was an equality and a shared purpose that I had not seen before.
I say all this as someone who does not focus on sponsored content in my own work but who believes that the blogging and social media community's health depends, at least in part, on its ability to handle its connections with marketing not only well but also meaningfully.
I did have a low point, though. I'm not going to lie. Conferences tend to overwhelm me, because, despite the fact that I get on stage to speak, and I travel the halls hugging people and trading business cards, I am a fairly extreme introvert.
I finally broke on Saturday afternoon — too much socializing coupled with a vulnerability hangover from the "Fear and Becoming Known" talk I delivered to a couple hundred people on Friday afternoon — and so I took some time to go for a walk on the beach alone and reconsider my entire life up until that point and going forward, because why not reassess your place in the universe and freak out about middle age and feel completely lost and more than a little hopeless in the middle of one of the most beautiful places on earth?
Again: my mind, it brings on the drama.
By the time I made it back to the hotel, though, I felt like I had been set aright again. Sometimes, all I need is a little bit of a realignment. Call it soul chiropracty, if you will.
I looked around at my community, and I was proud of what I saw. The entire community down to the last blogger is not always a stellar example representing the whole, but, by and large, this is the kind of community I have been trying to build up, hoping for, the kind of community that strives for quality, creativity, and meaningful action.
That's why getting together with my peers in the field is so important. I learn, change, go through the ridiculous process of freaking out about said change, because even good change can mean a difficult adjustment, and then I grow again, both personally and professionally.
It's a little like moulting, only less reptilian and more with the crying on the most beautiful beach in California.
In short, if anyone tells you that women in blogging and social media are just a pile of over-sharing narcissists who need to get real lives, what they're really telling you is that they have no idea whatsoever about what is actually going on.
I admit it, I was doubting the health and future of our group of early adopters a couple of years ago, but no more. There is a sea change afoot, and we're just getting started.
Dear everyone I met at Mom 2.0 Summit in Laguna Niguel, you rocked it out. Love, me.
And, last but not least, if you would like to see the slides from my Mom 2.0 Summit talk, "Fear and Becoming Known: Connection and Growth Through Selfish Acts", you can see them in the slideshow below.