I've actually been back from SXSW for about a week now. It's taken that long to actually process my peripheral experience there.
I should mention two things before I begin:
1) I went to scout the show for work - specifically, the vendor room.
2) I only had a film badge, so didn't get to take advantage of the full buffet that is SXSW.
Here's what I took away from what limited time I had there:
Hipsters! OH HOLY MOTHER! The hipsters were everywhere. Hipsters action packed full of being meaningful and making meaningful stuff and being so occupied with being the next big alternative thing (but just big enough not to lose their street cred) that they completely forgot about basic niceties and manners.
...Really? Saying "excuse me" is so difficult?
The hipster faction actually made me feel incredibly old. I felt like Grandpa screaming at kids to get off my lawn. I felt like I should've been walking with a cane and sipping from Metamucil tinged water, because I was certainly reminiscing a great deal about the good ole days.
I miss the days when Robert Mapplethorpe was considered shocking.
I miss the days when you could still see bands like Radiohead and Nirvana in small dingy clubs.
I miss when wearing a Grateful Dead shirt wasn't ironic.
I miss the days when beard wearing was reserved for hermits and hippies - un-ironically.
I miss when irony was pure and not part of some advertising campaign.
I miss the innocence of microbrew beers. I miss when MTV was full of music videos. I miss the purity of social movements. I miss when charities didn't get their start on Kickstarter.
Because I am old enough to remember some of the last great movements.
I'm old enough to have seen the Grateful Dead and Pink Floyd.
I'm old enough to have inhaled nitrous balloons and to pass up free hits of acid.
I'm old enough to remember that crack is whack.
I don't know what this says about SXSW. But I know that the fact that Mapplethorpe is no longer shocking speaks volumes about the society we live in.
We're no longer genuine. We're no longer novel. We're not even controversial. All the great themes have been used up and turned into, not necessarily theme parks, but tongue-in-cheek ads for Oreos and Google.
We need genuine controversy. We need genuine movement.
I want to start the anti-movement movement.
Kill your television.
Put down your phone.
Tune in. Drop out.