Last March, I had the displeasure of meeting a very famous A-List blogger. I’m not going to name names, but you’ve heard of him. Everyone has. I only spent like 2.5 minutes with him, but that was plenty. He’s the kind of guy people travel across the country to meet. . He was the kind of guy who looks over your shoulder while you tell him what you do. The kind of guy whose hand shake feels like a sickly catfish trying to get out of your grasp. Call me old-fashioned, but if you don’t know how to shake a man’s hand without making him feel like you think you’re above him… then you probably think you’re above him. I didn’t like that guy. Never read another word he wrote. And watching a bunch of other bloggers fawn all over him like there was nothing off-putting about his limp hand or wandering eyes soured me on meeting other bloggers in general.
Perhaps I wouldn’t have judged the famous blogger so harshly had I not met Joshua Millburn the day before. We met for the first time in the parking lot at Torchy’s Tacos. He promptly hugged me. Now obviously, the circumstances were slightly different – Josh and I were intentionally meeting up so I could show him around – and it would have been disconcerting had the famous blogger also greeted me so enthusiastically, but you know, there’s a lot of middle ground between a bear hug and a dead fish handshake that the famous blogger could have occupied.
I met up again with Josh last night in Little Rock. Different state, same hug. This time Ryan Nicodemus was there too. Different minimalist, same hug. Seriously. These guys love to hug. The Meet-Up was basically just a two hour cuddle party. Or maybe that was just the seating arrangement at the coffee shop that made it seem that way… But yeah, don’t go to a Minimalist Meet-Up if you aren’t cool with hugs.
But if you are cool with hugs – or if you want to experiment with hugging in a safe setting with some nice guys – you should definitely catch up with Ryan and Josh if they’re rolling through a city near you on the remainder of the Minimalist Meet-Up Tour.
I admit when Josh and Ryan first started their site in December 2010, I rolled my eyes and said “more minimalists?” The whole minimalism thing had started to seem so smarmy by then. Everyone was selling their heirlooms on Craigslist so they could afford the next big e-book that would finally answer the question: “Do I have to count my socks separately or can I count all 372 pairs as one item?” What could these guys possibly have to offer that hadn’t been said a thousand times already?
I think the answer to that question now is genuineness. They do what they do because they care, not because they want to make a quick buck so they can run off to Chang Mai and get laid. I mean, they may want to do that at some point in their lives, but I think that objective – if it exists – is separate from the objectives behind The Minimalists website. Helping people is the point. For instance, while other bloggers are still charging $50 and up for their books, Josh and Ryan just lowered all their prices.
This tour is a great example of what I’m talking about – and no, they aren’t paying me off with cash or sensual hugs to say this stuff. When most successful people announce a tour, the tour is about the people doing the touring. They are gifting you with their presence in your area. They may deign to autograph your book or your breast or what-have-you. They may stand up and impart their superior wisdom to their adoring fans. They will definitely try to hard-sell you some new shit before the night is over. Not so with The Minimalists.
The Minimalist Meet-Up Tour is about you. Whoever you are. These guys aren’t on the road to give you the gift of meeting them. They’re on the road because they want to meet the people who make their blog a success. Because the measure of any true author is his or her awareness that their work is just a tree falling in the forest if no one is around to listen. Josh and Ryan are aware of this, and that’s why their the real deal. And that’s why you don’t want to pass up the chance to meet them if they’re coming to a city near you.
Because listen, if you’re going to be part of the digital world, you’re going to have a lot of disappointing, off-putting, and downright bizarre experiences meeting the people you connect with online. You’re going to meet people who discourage you and make you question whether any of the shit bloggers say is real. You’re going to meet a lot of people who are just in it for the money or the approximation of fame. You’re going to meet a lot of people who just see you as a potential client. You’re going to meet a lot of people who don’t know how to fucking shake your hand.
But if you meet The Minimalists, you’re going to feel a little better about the human species in general. And you’re definitely going to leave with a little more hope that the other people you read online are equally as legit.
And you’re probably going to get a hug.
Unless the truth is the Minimalists just really enjoying hugging me …