I’ve never been to XOXO, and a few weeks ago I found out the person I was going with had something come up and absolutely could not come. I knew no one else going. Oh no, I thought. I was going to be that person alone in the corner again, except instead of for an evening it would be for an entire four days.
I didn’t realize that people will come up and talk to you if you’re sitting by yourself. Maybe I accidentally selected a great picnic table to eat alone at Thursday night, but within half an hour I was surrounded by people and involved in really interesting conversations. And on Friday, when I was alone in a corner, again, people who I’d just met yesterday came up to me and chatted with me. By Saturday I had dinner plans and breakfast plans with people I’d met that day. It was entirely unexpected and a great surprise. I used to believe the best way to meet new people is end up on a bus together stuck in snow for three hours; I now know it’s even better to end up stuck at XOXO.
I didn’t realize that people are willing to talk to me about what I care about! I’m very passionate about Tumblr culture, but I try to never talk about it because I can go on. Forever. On Thursday, I only mentioned Tumblr once when microblogging was brought up by someone else, and I managed to limit myself to a few sentences. Each night back at the hotel, I told myself I wouldn’t talk about Tumblr the next day. The more I talked to people, however, the more I realized that people wanted to hear my long opinions on Tumblr, and by Sunday night after Joseph Fink’s talk I was talking about Tumblr so much I felt I should apologize to people afterwards. I have been informed that apologies are not necessary so: sorry not sorry.
I didn’t realize how easy it would be to meet people who have the same passions and problems in such a large crowd, but somehow, we found each other. I really am not sorry, because I met other people who had the same complaints about tech culture and we could be critical about it together; because I met other people who understood Tumblr culture and we could be excited about it together. I didn’t realize how affirming it would be to meet these people.
I didn’t realize how much I would enjoy XOXO. There were so many talks or screenings I wasn’t too excited for that turned out to be amazing, that I went to only because my new friends wanted to go or because of inertia. There were even more things I heard were amazing that I completely missed. I came into this thinking I might attend a few good talks and sit in the corner alone the rest of the time.
I am so glad to be wrong.