Meet Kat Molesworth and Kat Goldin of Blogtacular, who are turning the online boom into old- fashioned face- to- face friendship
Turn online connections into IRL ones
Many of us now live in a virtual world, nose to the grind- screen, chatting to people we know intimately but have never met faceto- face. Gone are the days of hiding your internet addiction; what was once a dirty little digital secret – the preserve of online dating and ‘ special interest’ forums – is now mainstream and a regular part of our everyday lives.
So, what happens when virtual friends meet in person? Take Kat Molesworth. Describing herself as “a modern girl about the internets,” Kat hit the double jackpot by meeting both her future husband and her bezzie/ business partner, Kat Goldin, via screen. Together, Kat M and Kat G are the brains behind Blogtacular, a new UK blogging conference taking place in May 2014.
“Kat and I met in an online blogger forum – it’s hard not to notice someone with whom you share a name,” recalls Kat M. “We’d joined looking for connections with other UK bloggers in the days when it was hard to find people. Ironically, the forum was a hotbed for spats and power struggles rather than the collaborative space we were seeking.” A few years after ‘ meeting’ online Kat G, who lives in Scotland, came down to the South Coast for a wedding: “It was the perfect opportunity to meet and we spent a day together feeding our newborns, marshalling our toddlers and talking like old friends. We clicked from that first meeting and have been friends and collaborators ever since,” she adds.
Blog- tastic buddies
And now these positive experiences have paved the way for Blogtacular, with its potential to unleash a tidal wave of new connections. The event builds on the success of US- based blogging conferences such as Alt Summit ( www.altitudesummit.com), which started in 2010 for people from across the blogging and creative online worlds to meet in person. Since then, smaller spin– off events have sprung up all across the nation, proving there’s a huge desire for forging face- to- face contact with supportive, generous and like- minded contemporaries.
“One of the primary aims of Blogtacular is to create a place for bloggers to come together,” says Kat G. “There’s something powerful about spending time together and letting the conversation flow. We see Blogtacular as a springboard for creative collaborations and firming friendships, as well as a place to learn. Given my incredibly fortunate first experiences I’ve made it a policy to say yes to taking online friendships offline. With online friendships you give time to the people who really feed your soul, which means that the connection is far stronger than many offline friendships.” And she’s totally right. When you’ve talked for hours online, meeting up face- to- face means there’s no need for small talk; you can pass on the formalities and go straight to a good old chinwag.
And those connections are further fuelled when there’s a strong, shared love of craft involved. Last year’s Folksy Summer School ( http:// summerschool. folksy. com) and Etsy’s ongoing seller fairs and city-specific events have fuelled the meeting of minds ( and makes). Backed by big names and bringing face- to- face events back into the mix, they gather disparate sellers together to connect in person, ensuring online friends are as relevant and necessary as those met in a more traditional fashion.
“Communities are stronger when they have the opportunity to grow and learn. With Blogtacular, we want to be a catalyst for the community joining forces and becoming stronger than before,” explains Kat M. “Long term, we want Blogtacular to showcase European bloggers on the world stage; there are some incredibly talented bloggers here and we want to be part of their story.”
Reversing the online boom and casting off social stigma, crafters near and far are reaping the benefits of this new phenomenon. And the last word? As Kat M says: “What drives us to connect online is the need to find people who share our values. The internet has given us the whole world to search to find our kindred spirits; once you’ve found them, why wouldn’t you want to meet them?” Find out more at www.blogtacular.com