VidCon is one of my all-time favorite experiences. Its 7th conference in 2016 was my 5th time attending, and I can’t see myself changing my annual West Coast excursion anytime soon. And while I could recount all the crazy, amazing, and thought-provoking things I experienced on the blog for you, I thought I’d give you a little vignette of my experience and some thoughts I had while at the conference instead.
I’ve learned the hard way that the more expensive a hotel is, the less likely it is that you’ll have access to free Wi-Fi. You would think that if you pay that much for a hotel then some basic Internet should be included, right? Well, that’s not how it works, and I mistakenly assumed so when checking into the Anaheim Marriott for the conference last Wednesday. I had planned on finishing my weekly vlog and uploading on Thursday like normal, but the lack of Internet put some serious brakes on those plans. However, it opened up a whole new avenue in another way. The lack of free Wi-Fi in the hotel coupled with slow Wi-Fi in the convention center and 4G LTE data bogged down with traffic meant that I had very little access to the Internet during my time at VidCon. And not having Internet at a conference that’s basically geared towards Internet content creators seems kind of crazy.
But rather than agonize over buffering videos and upsettingly slow-to-load webpages, I put down my phone a lot more than usual and really experienced the conference. I still took lots of pictures to document the moment, but I didn’t worry so much about posting them all “in the moment” and now have several days worth of fun photos to post and reminisce about now that I’m back on the East Coast and working all day long.
VidCon is in many ways a very “meta” conference where the worlds you see and feel a part of through online video converge with your “IRL” reality. Suddenly you’re in YouTube vlogs or Snapchat stories or Instagram posts of people you’ve only ever known through the Internet and it feels surreal. So to not have Internet while at a conference like this and to be forced to take a step back from the glass we all have our faces’ plastered against in our attempts at seeing a more beautiful world through a photo filter, means we can see how on the one hand, we all look ridiculous in our attempts at online validation, but also how we create a world connected in ways we never could have been previously.
It’s a weird Internet world we live in. And at VidCon we actively take on the roles of both the voyeur and the one viewed. I just so happened to take an extra step back to see both the viewers and viewed at the same time, showing how weird and crazy our culture is. And of course, only made me love it more.