Why Blogger Meet Ups need to happen more
I spent yesterday afternoon in the basement of The Globe pub in the South Laines (Brighton), surrounded by vegan beauty products, (mostly) ethically sourced homeware, cameras and young women in stripes, blazers and denim. I was there for the Brighton Blogger Meet Up, organised by local blogger Laura, from Lola and Behold.
For those of you who are unfamiliar with blogger meet ups, they're essentially an opportunity for bloggers to get together and bring their passions offline - and usually pick up some Metcalfe Popcorn, as they seem to dominate these things.
Blogging can be an isolating hobby. Whilst tweet chats and blog commenting can help to break the mould, there's a growing perception that bloggers are generally out for themselves.
This is not to say that it's entirely true - I know a lot of bloggers who are in it to make friends - but both myself and a lot of the girls I spoke to yesterday have noticed that our once-safe online community is becoming bitchy and, well, high school.
People feel invincible online. Blogs, social media and forums give you a chance to represent yourself without the baggage that everyone in your real life sees you with. Some call it escape, some call it an opportunity to reinvent themselves.
But there are some who use the online world as an opportunity to project their own insecurities onto someone else. I've recently read comments in blogs telling young women that they're too fat, or their dress is too short, or they're 'a disgrace to food bloggers' because they re-reviewed a restaurant who asked for a second chance.
Those people forget that there's a real person behind the computer screen. That's why these blogger events are essential to our community.
Yesterday, I had multiple conversations with bloggers about this very topic. The majority of the girls that I'd spoken to had taken time off blogging over the last year because they didn't feel safe anymore.
This is a real crisis.
The only effective way to take control of the crisis is to show each other that there's a face behind our photographs, product reviews and lifestyle features. The internet does give you the opportunity to reinvent yourself, but you don't have to hide it in your laptop.
Starting today, I'm running monthly meet ups in order to help build and strength the Brighton Girl community. This isn't a blogger-only event, it's an opportunity open to all young women living in Brighton. However, it's been created on the same principles that I've written about in this post: we need to step out of our screens and support, empower and inspire each other offline.
I'd like to say a huge thank you to Laura for organised the Brighton Blogger Meet Up. I'd also like to especially thank the co-owner of the Homage Shop, who are an ethically conscious homeware store in Seven Dials, for a great conversation about sustainable businesses.
Other brands to thanks are Prairie Charms, Bio Oil, Tasty Little Numbers (who do amazing gluten free snacks) and many more (who will probably be edited in here later, once I know exactly who they are).
And, of course, thank you to all the bloggers at the event, for being open, honest and talking about the bad side of blogging - which seems to be a bit of a taboo in our industry.
Blogger events have the power to stop the negativity online from escalating and giving our community a bad name - but also, just as importantly, they're a great reminder that the blogger you've created in yourself exists offline too.
Join the Brighton Girl community on meet up to find events similar to this.