openings and beginnings

In ALL, FESTIVALS & CONFERENCES by Stephanie Klein

The thing about conferences is that they’re basically circle jerks – people who mostly already know each other, or at least, OF each other, and are there to rub their own noses in it. To keep current and relevant and @followed. Because we all want, even at the most basic level, to feel important. It’s why we brag, in that subtle way, causally slipping in bits of impressive information. Because we want to be taken seriously, to stand out, to be memorable, and more importantly, to be included. It’s one big playground, where no one wants to be compared to the lunch lady with the mustache.

But you get what you paid for.

Meaning: give to give. Don’t give to get. Because everyone always knows when you have an agenda. We like you balls out. Real not (velvet) ropes. We all want to connect on a deeper level, to break the polite “follow me” surface, and to come out with a new friend, an alliance, someone who gets it.

The other thing about conferences: people lose sight of the fact that not everyone is AT the conference with them. They speak about the festival as if it’s “the city,” as though if you’re “somebody” it will matter to you. And the exclusivity tied up in it all is just that: a knot, a hangup, an illusion. The best thing you can do at a conference is admit, no matter how seasoned you are, that you still want intimacy, still want someone to be interesting AND interested without wanting you to tweet about them. You want genuine, even when genuine comes at you in a complaint, a stomp, or a “Really, they genuinely expect me to take a shuttle to see them? As if.”

And yes, I have a panel at The Sheraton Hotel (which is nowhere near the convention center), a place that, even I, would never bother with. Unless… unless I wanted a memorable experience. Does it ever just feel like the extra effort, the place no one else is talking about, is your own little secret, the thing that will change your life? I love the possibility in that, the room for openings and beginnings.