I spent the weekend at the M3 Summit, touted as the world’s First Major Dadblogger Conference, an event that (per the M3 Summit website) would “change everything”. I’m not going to talk about it. Instead, I’m going to talk about BlogHer.

I’ve never been to a BlogHer Conference, but like many of you, I feel like I have. If you’re on Twitter, or if you read any of our mommyblogging counterparts, you get to live the experience vicariously. People start buzzing about it months in advance. Who will I get to meet? What sessions will I attend? Which parties will I get invited to? WHAT WILL I WEAR? It all seemed a bit silly to me, especially when men I know asked the same questions. And when the BlogHer Conferences begin, Twitter and Flickr crash under the weight of all of that squee’d adulation. I rarely feel like one of those people that Just Don’t Get It, but until Friday night, I just didn’t get it.

Then I find myself in a hotel bar in the heart of Atlanta. The Muskrat is extolling the virtues of Basil Hayden (BOURBON, y’all). John, he of the excellent site Daddy Scratches, is telling us tales of life as a rock and roll journalist. Doug French is doing a dead-solid Stewie impersonation. There’s Clay Nichols and Brad Powell from DadLabs, tossing around ideas for their next video. Ron Mattocks and Danny Evans and John Cave Osborne are talking about the trials and tribulations of writing a book. Caleb Gardner is, with uncanny accuracy, naming everyone’s Celebrity Doppelganger (mine? Joe Perry.) Jeff and Craig and Brian from Man Of The House are still laughing about the ghastly smelling hunk of bison meat that Jeff ordered at the restaurant last night. (“A rotting harbor seal carcass.” “A used diaper filled with Indian food.” “Bigfoot’s dick!”)

A buncha guys, hanging out at a bar. I’d exchanged a few tweets and emails with most of them, and had visited their blogs and websites, sometimes even leaving a comment. Of course, the thing I didn’t get about BlogHer is that it’s not really about the sessions or the networking opportunities. It’s about what happened for me this weekend, when a bunch of people that I used to think of as words and images on a 15-inch screen became flesh and blood friends.