Abolish South by Southwest!

If there’s one thing I hate more than spilling a Shiner Bock on my iPhone 4 just after I just downloaded the newest OkCupid update, it’s South by Southwest, especially the Interactive part, a supposedly technology-oriented appendage of the days-long party.

Let’s destroy this sham of a technological confabulation once and for all. But before we do that, let’s call it what it really is: the Woodstock of our generation. Which is to say, an excuse for unattractive men to disguise themselves as forward-thinking revolutionaries in hopes of getting laid.

But here’s the sad truth, South by Southwest fanboy: you’re not a revolutionary, and worse, you’re not getting laid.

Come to think of it, “SXSW” is less like Woodstock than a revival meeting, but without the virtue. You’ve got your blind faith, speaking in tongues, fantasies of redemption and plenty of “evangelists.”

Can you get an “Amen”? Not from me, suckers.

“WE ARE AT A PIVOTAL MOMENT!” some panelist will preach to a laptop-toting choir. “SOMEONE MUST INTERPRET ALL THIS DATA!” Out on 6th Street, meanwhile, a bunch of drunken mooks pile on top of each other in sweltering heat while the stench of human odor and overused mobile applications permeates the air. Disgusting.

Any value “SXSW” might have had wore off shortly after everyone stopped spelling the whole name out. (Now they call it “South By” and soon it will just be a vague hiss: like “Sssuhhhhh…”) But over the years the conference has become a gross parody of its original intentions. Let me break down the daily schedule of the average ding-dong who still goes to this festival:

He comes to on a dorm room floor, breath stinking of Corporate Super-Sponsor Miller Lite. He collects his buttons, stickers and vanity USB sticks. He stumbles into the Austin heat, where someone is handing out samples of Pepsi Max or Brisk Iced Tea or, worst-case, Monster Energy Drink. He bikes over to the Dell Computer Lounge for another panel and the “opportunity” to network with someone who coded some software that makes it easier to identify smells. Which will come in real handy back at the crash pad.

And I cannot stress this enough: No-one has gotten laid.

Why don’t you people do something useful? Maybe make an app that allows users to avoid getting beaten by government thugs. Then have your little festival. There’s a global famine going on. Make a food replicator like they had on Star Trek, then file for your parade permits.

All this banging on about techno-utopias when so much of the world is so cocked-up makes my ears bleed. Sorry, dorks, but fancy cloud computing isn’t going to help us educate our youngsters or take out the trash.

Here’s a newsflash, Soup Soup: If you’re a real innovator, you’re not out in Texas shaking hands with indie bands; you’re 15 years old, grinding out the hours in some Connecticut basement, soldering together old Kaypros and giving Steve Jobs the night sweats.

Get rid of South by Southwest. Strangle it with its own lanyard. And save the backslaps for when we really have something to be proud of, like a program that can finally stop my iPhone apps from wiggling.

Grow up, you babies.

mtaylor [at] observer.com | @mbrookstaylor

  Abolish South by Southwest!