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Some Thoughts Concerning SXSW 2015

We have reached the apex of SXSW, the yearly 10-day-ish culture bender that overruns our fair city each March. Interactive is a blip in our rear view mirror. The movie stars are leaving town. The musicians are rolling in their drum kits. By Monday morning a hangover haze will engulf the whole downtown. But you know what’s more ubiquitous at SXSW than Lone Stars, pedi-cabs, and crowds? Brands! There has been a lot of talk about brands during the past few years of SXSW. A lot of bitching. A lot of complaining. Lots of tongues in cheeks. And I get it. For the majority of Austinites, SXSW is a pain in the butt. Traffic is worse than it usually is (which is saying something). Crowds on crowds on crowds make lines on lines on lines. If you do happen to venture out, chances are whatever you’re doing is a little bit more expensive than before. Everything requires pricey wristbands. Millennials: A Definition But come on, guys. Let’s take a deep breath. Let’s take a step back. I mean, what is this?  That’s right, even Taco Bell is getting in on the action. Face it, SXSW is pretty awesome and we should try not to be jaded by it. I’m guilty myself. After five years of it I’ve run the gauntlet when it comes to SXSW activities. I’ve stood in lines in the rain and drank free tequila from plastic cups. I’ve collected so many wristbands that they wrap around to my shoulder. I’ve been crushed during the free shows at Auditorium Shores by texting teenagers, and I’ve done absolutely nothing, and steered clear of any and all things SXSW, preferring instead to pretend it doesn’t exist. Yes, it’s changed. Everything changes. Yes, it’s kind of a mess. But it’s a unique festival, not just in Texas, not just in the United States, but it’s unique FOR THE WORLD. Do you know how rare it is to find something globally unique? There are over 7 billion people on the planet! And none of them have SXSW. Uber vs Lyft: What’s the Difference? My esteemed colleague, Ethan (he of freight minimalism), and I decided to dip our toes in the SXSW activities last Friday, at the SXSW Job Market. This wasn’t a mutiny; we weren’t looking to change professions. But being down there among the SXSW masses got me thinking about all the goodness that SXSW brings. Sure, there’s a corporate greed that has creeped up on every billboard, every alien mind-melding device (?!?!), and every downtown restaurant remixed to rep some fashionable website or technological wunderkind. Sure, there’s an emptiness to the whole proceedings, and sure, there’s a ton of people who will be scrambling Monday morning to come up with something, anything, to show their bosses that, “Hey, I accomplished something at SXSW. Look at all this swag!” Lyft lands at the Austin Airport But walking around the job market, talking to people from near and far, it’s hard not to get swept up in the excitement and the energy that is coursing through Austin during SXSW. It made me think how lucky I am to experience this at all, right on my own doorstep. It’s not about the free concerts, or the movie star sightings, or the #SXSW. I think it’s about being in a place that makes this sort of stuff happen – and Austin should be proud to be that cultural mecca, at least for 10 days a year. It’s about the massive boost the city’s economy gets, and about the local business owners who rely on this boom. It’s about putting on a smiling face for our city for those visitors you randomly run into from Finland, Denmark, South Africa, Japan, New Zealand, Canada, Paris, Belgium, Russia, or thousands of other places. They may never go to San Francisco or Los Angeles or even New York. But they’ve been to Texas. They’ve been to Austin. They’ll talk about the BBQ. So next time you get down about SXSW, cheer up. It will be over before you know it. And if you haven’t yet, go downtown, brave the crowds, drink a Lone Star, wait in line for an overcrowded concert in the rain. You never know what you might find.

Logan Theissen

Logan is a Content Marketing Associate at FreightPros in charge of social media and content creation. He has a writing degree from the University of Oklahoma, but lives life on the edge and resides in Longhorn country. He loves Murakami books, Tarantino movies, and Vonnegut books. Lots of books. One day he will own a dog, but first he'll have to get a yard.

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