Wow, nearly 2 weeks since Blogfest. I had exams last week so wasn’t able to put my thoughts down about it (being very disciplined and doing lots of revision!) but to be honest, even if I had nothing else to do I don’t think I would have been able to write any sooner. I am still reeling from the day, from the amazingness of it, from ‘that feminist session’ and trying to collect my thoughts as not been easy.
Don’t get me wrong; I had an amazing day. I have already confessed to being very new to blogging so I really had no idea what to expect but it was worth every penny of the ticket price. In the end what I mainly loved about Blogfest was that it made me think. It made me challenge myself and the views I have about things and I love that. And what did I think? If I had to summarise it in one word it would be ‘Beware’. Not in a dramatic Shakespearean sense but in a quiet and contained way more aligned with the origin of the word. The derivation of the word Beware is Be Wary; the dictionary definition of wary is being watchful, alert, vigilant, guarded, circumspect, prudent and careful. Every session made me feel this in some way. To start off I was blown away by Stella Creasy and her stories of abuse on twitter. Putting yourself out in the ether is opening yourself up to abuse that does not occur so easily in real life. The internet, blogging and social media give us huge power but we must also be cautious. Alert to potential threats and ready to take action and protect ourselves and others.
We moved on to Think Bombs… Prof Tanya Byron talked about the dangers of being too careful. Our children are living a different life to ours and we must allow that and support them in it rather than being terrified of a different future. Perhaps their issues are not caused by the technology, as it can sometimes apper, but we are simply able to see them because of it. We must beware over reactions, controlling behaviours and blaming technology instead of trying to understand the real issues.
Sue Black, a Dr of Computer Science, supported Tanya’s view in so much as she said that we must empower women to use technology or not only them but their children will suffer as a consequence. The amazing work she has done to show the power that technology gives women really inspired me to try and help out (and I have signed up!)
Ron Jonnson spoke of his anger when he was ‘cloned’ by an infobot created by academics. The video he showed was funny and terrifying at the same time and the whole experience had made him think about how people behave on social media sites. Public Humiliation, banned in the early 1800s has been brought back and with a vengeance. We must beware of being part of something we would not want to own up to our friends, beware of behaving in ways that are not in line with our key values, just because of the anonymity a computer screen affords us.
The literary greats (and they were so great!) discussed how to write a good story. I was captivated. But the message that came across was that while the internet may offer more people the opportunity to get published it can also squash the creative spirit and trample creativity. We must beware of the instant criticism that the online world brings and only expose ourselves to it if we are sure we have the strength of character to ignore the bad in favour of the good.
Finally, the Feminisim debate. This saddened me so much. In the morning sessions you could feel the positive energy in the room. It was amazeballs. In contrast, in that final session there was still the energy but the positivity had gone. There were women fighting each other because they felt threatened and surely we have enough threats to deal with without infighting. We must beware of the how hard it can be to hear what people are trying to say when we are upset about something. Instead of us standing together and supporting our right to different choices, celebrating that, there was infighting and the kind of behaviour that gives Mumsnet a reputation in the wider world that I don’t want to be associated with. Listening is not just about not talking over each other, it is about really hearing the message that the person is giving out and accepting on face value when someone says they didn’t mean it the way you understood. We must beware being our own worst enemy… there are far more worthy enemies to fight before we can truly say we have really have freedom of choice and opportunity.
Finally Jo Brand. Beware of the lady with humour on her side for even a room full of fired up ladies can be tamed by the power of laughter. Jo was a great addition to the day and a really lovely lady.
Blogfest gave me lots to think about and I had a fantastic time and from now on I will be a little more careful in how I use social media and perhaps a little braver about letting my children use technology. Thanks Mumsnet for an inspiring day!
One of the sponsors of Blogfest; Mark Warner, are offering an amazing prize to a lucky Mumsnetter who both blogs about Blogfest and includes a top tip for a family holiday. This post is my entry and my top tip is in direct contrast to the content of my post… be Brave! When planning your holiday try something different and push the boundaries of comfort a little. You will do things you never thought possible and make memories you and your children will cherish forever.