Day One: IFBC (International Food Bloggers Conference, Santa Monica)
Sitting in the back of a hotel conference room, looking around at familiar and not familiar faces. Writers. Photographers. Eaters. Coming together under one roof with a mission. Or rather many missions and purposes that dissolve into a greater purpose.
Anticipation. Anxiety. Excitement. The pre-conference jitters fill the stomach and leave attendees with high hopes for a pricey weekend with promises of good eats and adventures and gifts!
Reality? The truth is the reality is amazing (an apparently overused but still applicable word) but not what was expected. Mundane to those who can’t embrace the opportunity to absorb from the experiences of peers and idols. Swag-minimists rejoice while swag-seekers weep. This isn’t a place for freebie grabbing groupies but instead an opportunity to focus on craft.
The second year. A chance to get past the glitz, and settle into the routine. Panels. PowerPoint. People. Peace. Socializing while seeking something more.
I am honored and humbled by meeting all of you. Please vote for me. We aren’t those people who tweet to seek you as a follower but instead tweet to build community. Do your tweets serve a purpose? Do they matter to more than two people? Does it matter? The purpose of social media is in the hands of the iPhone holder with a Twitter account. But keep your dalliances on the up and up. Keep it ethical… if you know what ethics even are. Who here knows the difference between ethics and morals?
Bites. Lots and lots of bites. Food and beverage. Gulps of liquid fermented fruit. Crowds and hands and glasses and overwhelmed because the numbers that seemed so small in that mundane conference room have been condensed in a well-lit atrium and the lively antics are amplified.
Suddenly the growling stomaches are satiated. Special diet needs are met. Sadness because the freebie grabbing means there isn’t enough for all. But reframing again and recognizing the sponsored swag isn’t the end goal. But illusion of shared community is smudged.
Walking. Talking. Opening up to strangers, now perhaps friends? Late nights. Index card back-up systems and small group discussions. Old relationships and new. No pressure. No sponsored banners. Just people with beverages in chairs talking about food. It’s this moment. You can’t put this moment in a swag bag. You can’t put this moment in a PowerPoint. This is the moment that exceeds expectations.