People, Cliques, and Blogging

I met Shannon at BlogHer last year. She’s neat.

She wrote a post a couple of days ago called Nasty Tweets, Blog Cliques, and Q-list bloggers like me. Apparently, somebody said something about somebody copying someone and there was a thing. I’m kind of over interpersonal drama right now, so whatever. But then Shannon made some statements about blogs and cliques that I found interesting. I’ll let you read her post for the details, but here is the gist:

  1. There are cliques of successful bloggers who don’t want to socialize with new bloggers.
  2. People who are new to blogging see these cliques being exclusive and they lose trust in the wonderful place that is the blogosphere.
  3. People deny that blog cliques exist, and that needs to stop.

So here are my thoughts, in order:

  1. Well, yeah. However, there is a limit on the number of blogs one can read and the number of friends one can keep up with.
  2. Did they really believe people would stop acting like people because they’re blogging?
  3. Who’s denying it? I’ve never talked with anyone who denies it.

This is something I thought about a lot after BlogHer two years ago.

Afterwards I read commentary harshing on “the mommybloggers” for being a clique, for being unapproachable, because they were hanging out with each other. I don’t actually know which ones they meant because there were more than 700 attendees. Surely a clique can’t be larger than 20 people, so if we assume even 10 cliques of mommybloggers that year, that’s 200 people… leaving 500 other people who aren’t in the cliques. So I had a hard time figuring out how mommyblogger cliques ruined BlogHer because there was no one left to talk to.

I am not a clique denier. Seriously. Human beings make cliques, it’s one of our bad habits. So this post is a little bit of a devil’s advocate thing, but I’m also curious about where we draw lines. How much do we fall prey to the myth of blogosphere as equal opportunity playing field and then resent anyone who is already full up on friends, acquaintances, and blogs to read, so they don’t pay attention to us. If you’re popular and 700 people are reading your blog, but you only have time to read 100 blogs, does that make you snobbish? What if you really like those 100 blogs, are you supposed to stop reading them so you can start reading some new people?

At an event, how do you tell the difference between a clique and a group of friends who rarely have a chance to see each other and who are doing their damn best to pack as much face time into three days as they can before they have to fly home?

It may be a “you know it when you see it” thing, but how much of that perception is colored by the viewer’s own past experiences and personal issues? The accusation of clique-dom is hard to refute if the person making the accusation never tried to talk to the alleged clique members because they seemed like a clique. “Everyone seemed to know everyone else, I felt left out” at a conference of 700-800 people strains my credulity. At what point do we make people responsible for their own feelings and expect that if they attend an event full of strangers and they want to interact, they will take it upon themselves to start conversations?

Then again, my feeling that there are plenty of random people to talk to at BlogHer conferences may be like my feeling that pervasive advertising isn’t really a problem. Perhaps I just see what I want to and ignore the annoyances, like cliques and billboards. How many people have to say “everyone seemed to know everyone else already” before it’s a comment on the culture and not the individual?

Online, people feel ignored if their comments aren’t responded to, if their posts aren’t linked to, if they blog in response to someone else’s post and the blogger they reference doesn’t come over and check it out. But if you’re a popular blogger, how do you have time to follow everyone who follows you?

Yes, this is what I think about when I should be scrubbing my shower curtain clean on the driveway. Yes, thanks, I already know about running it through the washer but it didn’t work.

2 thoughts on “People, Cliques, and Blogging

  1. becky

    Contrary to how my last post may have sounded, I actually love talking to people at BlogHer. And I always meet new people, talk to people I don’t know, and have a great time. I always come home with new friends.

    My first year at BlogHer (2 yrs ago, San Jose), I literally knew one person. And she wasn’t even there when I got there. The women were so nice, coming up and introducing themselves. A lot were mommybloggers, even. It was tough to go up to a group of people talking, for certain, but only once did I get rebuffed by only one person in a group. And who knows what was going on with her at that time? Overall, people are so nice if you put yourself out there.

    But you can’t expect everyone to walk up to you. I do remember dear Izzy coming up to me when I was standing alone, and I’ll always adore her for that. But we’re all so busy rushing around that if you want to meet someone, you just have to go up and introduce yourself.

  2. Shannon

    Totally cannot believe I didn’t see this til today. I blame vacation. And my feed reader that still has 1000+ unread items. Whoops.

    Anywho – I hear you. Yes, people who are oversensitive to things like cliques (they call it an “exclusion schema”, thank you and my therapist very much ;)) do notice it more, and of course I’m speaking from my own experience. But I am very honest when I say I’ve had unpleasant experiences that I really don’t think were just me being oversensitive. I don’t know how else to explain it without getting into anecdotes, but I’ve found myself super frustrated a couple of times, and this has been after trying to reach out to people in person.

    The other interesting thing is that I have absolutely had people say that there’s no clique, which is frustrating. So I am very refreshed to hear someone say it, and put it in terms that actually make sense. So, thanks!

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