How BlogHer changed me (AKA my invitation for trolls)

The online world I knew pre-BlogHer is a world of backbiting, lies, betrayal, one-upping and ugliness amongst women sprinkled with dashes of caring and support just to be able to say 'It's all lies! We aren't catty bitches! We luuuurve each other! ((hugs))' **PMs online bestie** Zomg! did you see the stupid thing so-and-so did!

I'm sad to say that I was a part of it for far too long. Its easy to get sucked in and I've been on many sides of it. I've been supportive, knock-down, drag-out mean, spiteful, made attempts at misguided heroism, I've talked smack, I've been charitable, I've been sweet, helpful and I've created monsters in the form of online forums, I've been the victim and the victimizer. It's eat or be eaten in some places on the WWW and I was not about to be gobbled up by anyone. I've got a mouth and a keyboard and I wasn't afraid to use it. I chose my weapon and wielded it callously throughout the internet. And for any good I did along the way, I destroyed it with my carelessness.

And then one day I decided to stop. Because it's stupid, ridiculous, pointless and a massive waste of energy. And I'm a grown-ass woman that should know better.

It didn't happen all at once. I will confess (and I know it is no revelation to some) that I can be stubborn and spiteful and once you are on my bad side, there are not a lot of opportunities to get off of it. In short, at times I can act like a bigger child than my three year old can.

I'm not going to make excuses, apologies or beg for forgiveness from anyone. I don't want it, I don't need it and honestly I probably don't deserve it in some cases. I won't even tell you why, at the time, I felt justified in anything I said or did or how I went from quiet lurker to internet super-beast and back. Instead I've just closed that chapter of my life and I've moved on. I made a pledge to myself many months ago to act differently and BlogHer'11 solidified that resolve to be myself but to yield my weapons with conscience and care.

When I signed up for BlogHer'11 I worried that it would be more of the same. One internet super-beast after another just waiting for the chance to drag sharpened, freshly manicured talons across a keyboard. What I saw though were thousands of women bragging about each other. Talking about how they admire so-and-so, brainstorming, hugging, encouraging each other to be fearless and brave. 

BlogHer showed me that women can be supportive of each other. And that is the kind of woman I want to be. Not sometimes, not half the time but all the time. That doesn't mean I have to be your BFF...hell, I don't even have to like you. It means that I need to let you figure out your journey on your own. I don't need to school you or others on why I think you may or may not be an asshat. I know now that everyone can see it - just like some saw it in me. What it does mean is that if I think you are being a total asshat, then I will just walk away. I've never been one to leave blog comments but for the sake of this conversation: I won't leave blog comments, get on Twitter, Facebook or any public forum and make conversation that is anything outside of constructive or uplifting.

I've been doing a lot of that walking in the past year. Some of it forced but most of it on my terms and all of it resulting in relief. I am happy to be free of people, places and things that have long been poison in my life. I've eliminated behaviors from my repertoire that lead to more negative behavior and perpetuate this cycle of ugliness. There will always be parts of me that want to whip out my sharp tongue and tell you what's what. But honestly I'd rather exert that energy somewhere else. I won't call myself reformed or changed. I will just say I am trying to be the change I'd like to see in others and especially myself and that I am a work in progress.

Thank you, ladies of BlogHer'11 for demonstrating to me what a good place our online world can be. I'm looking forward to watching all of you meet the goals you strive for and hope that I can keep up on whatever capacity I choose in this blogging world.