by Elyn Aviva
Unwittingly, my husband, Gary, and I walked into an alternative virtual reality. We were surrounded by aliens who looked human. Aliens who spoke a language that sounded like English, but their vocabulary was subtly different. Words like “ROI,” “SEO,” and “hashtags” peppered their speech.
And they communicated with odd body language. Although they seemed to be talking to each other, they rarely made eye contact. Instead, they stared intently at small, vibrating, hand-held devices with brightly lit screens. And they kept tapping these strange pieces of equipment, sometimes with one finger, sometimes with several, or sometimes with their opposable thumbs. Occasionally, their eyes flicked up from the screen to glance around. But only for a moment.
Into what strange world had we wandered? An international travel bloggers conference in Girona, Catalonia, Spain. It sounded appealing in the invitational email: inexpensive, educational, entertaining—and it included a visit to a castle. AND it was taking place in my adopted home town of Girona, so why not?
In this alternative universe, everything was baffling, including the meaning of words I thought I knew. “Relevant” meant “meeting your fans where they’re at” and “content” meant maximizing your Google indexability (the number of searchable key words in your website or blog). “Service” writing” meant providing information and the rush to publish meant some bloggers are posting not weekly but daily or even hourly. A popular book author was called a “long-form print guy.” “Engagement” referred to how actively engaged your Facebook (or blogsite) fan base is, not to a diamond ring.