Do you like to bake? There’s a blog for that. Want to improve your marriage? There’s a blog for that. Gone are the days where a blog is just an open journal representing the voice of one lone writer. Nowadays one blog can reach a handful to thousands to millions of readers every day.
Blog topics are vast and the people behind the blog include both highly trained professionals and self-taught gurus who cover just about every topic under the sun. These bloggers are just as diverse as the topics they cover and represent different cultures, backgrounds, lifestyles, and age groups.
Thanks to an invitation to Blogaliciious5, a conference sponsored in part by Wells Fargo who is also my employer and the owner of the Beyond Today blog for which I’m a contributing blogger, I had the pleasure of spending a couple of days with a few hundred women (and some men) who cultivate these online communities.
During the conference I watched as bloggers from around the country shook hands, hugged, and in some cases squealed in delight over their face to face meet up. Within minutes I had been embraced by fellow bloggers who all shared one thing in common – a shared passion to curate virtual communities of people who are in search of the information, conversations, and resources.
Thanks to Blogalicious5 I will never look at my Google search results the same. I now understand that behind the list of gazillion results are lots of committed bloggers who skillfully cultivate relationships and connect complete strangers across a network of shared interests.
While it’s true that cyber bullies and trolls are unfortunate consequence of the anonymity offered by virtual communities it is also true that these communities also serve as sources of inspiration for many. What I learned after spending a few days connecting with a dynamic group of bloggers is that that there are real people and real issues behind those Twitter handles. A lot of TLC goes into creating forums where everyone even the “meanies” have a voice yet the opportunity learn from victories and as well as our defeats manages to shine through.
During one of the many question and sessions at Blogalicious a young lady quietly approached the microphone. “You helped changed my life,” she says as she explains her choice to stop chemically straightening her hair to Afrobella, a natural hair blogger she follows. Even I had to take a minute to gush as I interacted with founders of BMK-Black and Married with Kids about how one of their articles on step parenting helped me.
Giving everyday people everyday access to the topics they care about or things they enjoy is why I love blogs and other forms of social media (e.g. Twitter, Facebook, Pinterest, etc.) and thanks to Blogalicious5 I love these virtual connections even more.
So the next time you are scrolling your Google search results or hear the word hash tag instead of worrying about the decline of modern civilization think of more as beautiful birds of a feather flocking together.