PictureThe Portland Art Museum/Twin Peaks Black Lodge
Greetings from drizzly Portland, Oregon! As I've been eagerly anticipating for several months now, I am attending the first day of the second ever Vida Vegan Conference at the beautiful and stylish Portland Art Museum. I will be blogging periodically to share updates and impressions of the conference; more importantly, I want to blog about some of the dialogues that have been opened at this year's VVC so that those dialogues can be expanded to a wider audience.

I just returned from a fantastic discussion, titled Attention Spans, Social Media, & The State of Blogging. Lead by Jess of Get Sconed, who is also one of the incredible, unbelievable VVC organizers/chairs/superladies, this session addressed the ever-evolving role of social media in vegan activism and blogging. Jess started things off by talking about her on-again, off-again relationship with Facebook. As discussion grew amongst the group, it became evident that what many of us see lacking in Facebook (as well as other forms of "microblogging," such as Twitter and Instagram) is an invitation to engage in deeper activism, dialogue, and consciousness-raising. "What's in a 'like'?" was the question of the day. What does it mean to you to have 'liked' something on social media? Alternately, what does it mean that someone has 'liked' something of yours? A 'like' has devolved into a sort of check-in, where further reading, commentary, or dialogue are not necessarily forthcoming. Joanna Vaught raised a question that especially struck a chord with me- "does it feel authentic to 'like' this?"

The discussion ultimately raised a lot of issues which I have personally been mulling over for quite some time. Veganism and social media are both expanding and evolving faster than ever before and it's only natural that the two become closely intertwined. I've touched upon this in the About section of my website, but increasingly it seems to be that in order to have an online presence, one must market oneself as a complete brand. One does not have a blog without also having a Twitter, a Facebook page, and an Instagram for that blog. 

It's a much larger discussion than can be contained in one 45-minute session or one poxy blog post, frantically typed out before the next session begins, but I'm glad a dialogue was opened. As someone who doesn't quite 'get' and frankly fails horribly at this whole cross-promotional, strategic microblogging thing, I think Jess' Zen-like closing statement sums it up quite nicely: "if a vegan makes a coconut cream pie, will it still taste delicious without a hashtag?"

(the answer is yes)

Here's to enjoying actual life as much as, if not more, than virtual life! I'm off to go socialize with some more actual vegans who I only get to see every two years. More soon!



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