"Hi, I'm Arty. @artemislives" Or should I smile and say, "Hi, I'm Marike."? What would my real name mean to anyone, anyway? Oh the dilemma!! It was that awkward moment when I was about to meet people face to face whom I only knew by their steem IDs. And I felt strangely vulnerable just before I entered that room - a bit like undressing before strangers.
It was the travelfeed.io Chiang Mai, Northern Thailand, meetup. On the back end of #Steemfest for some. I wanted to go out of sheer curiosity, and to support and observe this brave & creative new way of onboarding new steem bloggers. New, enthusiastic people with something to say.
I had to consult the Urban Dictionary when Jurgen, one of the hosts of the travelfeed crew, said it was nice to meet IRL. Yup - I'm dating myself. For the other confused readers who are quite happy to admit they were travelling and living & travel writing long before social media or the Urban Dictionary were ever a 'thing', IRL means 'In Real Life'.
So there we were. At Namtoms House Bar: Craft Beers on Tap. 6 seasoned Steemians and 5 enthusiastic newbies who were delighted to find a new and easy way to earn whilst blogging & travelling; curious, happily downloading apps and signing up. They had no real idea they were also joining the Steem community.
Image credit: travelfeed.io
The people who would upvote and support their blogs were referred to simply as investors, (and indeed we are). The presentation didn't talk about Steem per se, and the newbies weren't that interested anyway. As it was so succinctly pointed out during the meeting: "You don't need to know about the back end of a computer or how it works to actually use one."
After the presentation, the newbies did tech things & got signed up:
Image credit: travelfeed.io
and we braved the Thai Craft Beer experience. Not a big beer drinker when it's under 35C, I asked at the bar for red wine. LOL. "No Have. Solly" And he pointed to the menu:
I went with the Black Current Agony. Why? Aged in Oak sounded vaguely comforting to this red wine drinker. How was it? Well, it was aptly named, let's leave it at that.
A bit like sour Ribeena with fizz. LOL. The Aussies of my vintage will get that.
But the whole evening got me thinking about connection, how communities come to be and the transition from online chit-chat to real life, face to face. About the unfurling of community. Not everyone WANTS to be face to face, as was evidenced in the group photo. :) Facial recognition software is real, and not everyone wants to be in that Great Big Databank. But I could FEEL that the common steem values counted for a lot when we physically sat side by side, and made connection so much easier. I enjoyed to sit with @gooddream and was pleased to get home and be able send him my WITNESS VOTE. Haven't done that yet? I recommend @gooddream as a man who puts himself forward for the development of steem, who's into manual curation, proof of brain and NOT into stupid random downvoting, nor downvote trails. He showed up. An encourager.
But more than all of that, I saw how it works in reverse. How IRL, a smile and an encouraging word from others who are out there blogging, earning and doing, makes it so much easier for people to download the app, have people to ask questions of, and to get started.
I also saw and learned how each of us needs to redefine "travel blogger". No, you don't need to be a broke-arsed nomadic person under 30 living in dorms and doing it hard. Do you LIVE in an interesting place people might enjoy to visit? Share your experience (along with 250 words minimum and some great original photos or a video) and voila you, too, are a travel blogger!!! Don't forget to use #travelfeed as your first tag.
I saw clearly that the ones who founded, fought and bled to START Steem are actually not likely to be the ones to take it to mass adoption. That's a normal transition in any entrepreneurial start up, and Steem is no different.
I came away from the meet-up clutching my give away elephant keychain (thank you!) and a bunch of postcards to leave in nomad-travel-spots about town.
Mostly though, I came away ENCOURAGED by Steem and its potential. Encouraged by a Witness who is passionate and real. Encouraged by other Steemians who came simply to encourage. Encouraged by the enthusiasm of the newbies. Encouraged by the foresight and creative work of travelfeed.io
If anyone has any pro-tips on the Craft Beer front to make my next visit to Namtons more enjoyable on the beer front, I'm all ears. :)
Grateful for the growing global Steem community. IRL.