Sunday, April 13, 2008

Convention and Anal Retention

Well I got back today from the annual Texas Young Democrats convention. I've decided that the drive between Dallas and Hillsboro and Waco and Salado are both unbearable. Even more unbearable is the drive between Ft. Worth and Denton. Honestly, I'll take Dallas traffic over getting stir-crazy in my car driving through the middle of nowhere.

Convention was fun. Most of it was coming from young Democrats to other young Democrats, so that was a good time. I saw Boyd Richie speak, which was cool, and got to see a Q&A with some Young Democrat Super delegates.

Richie is a classic Texas politician. I hear him speak and my mind wanders to "Texian Decor" : offices with leather couches, star cut-outs on every lampshade, door handle and table, Texas Monthly and Texas Parks and Wildlife magazines on the table, backroom deals from the office and a glass of liquor to celebrate the deal. That's not really a bad thing, it's just the way it works here. (We wear "being Texan" on our sleeve most of the time, have you ever been to the Capitol? Yeah, and almost every lawmaker's personal office is that way too, I can assure you.) I got to see the big Texas Cheese, and it was cool.

There was a bit of a generational disconnect though. In one session we were encouraged to use facebook and other online social tools to recruit and gather information on potential Young Democrats. In another, the presenter told us to delete our myspace accounts, facebook profiles and stop blogging. Then he joked that it was already too late. Yeah, too late for an entire generation. Eventually people are going to learn to see the internet as a community, and not merely data on other people. Of course we need to not be dumbasses and put extremely personal information online. I don't think other people should know about intimate relationship details, or my address and what type of underwear I wear, either. At least, that's not my thing. I like reading other people's blogs on the subject, of course. But the thing that older people don't realize is, we don't judge other people for having this information online. It's basically accepted by our youth culture. In fact, it defines us as who we are. Differing values for differing generational cultures.

It boils down to the fact that previous generations have a bigger privacy bubble, and a smaller definition of community. They're usually limited to hometown, neighborhood, alma matter, and work for their social needs. I, on the other hand, dated a guy in high school that was from California. I met him through a friend I knew IRL (in real life, another example of change because of the internet), who met another guy through the internet, and then I met California guy through this guy. That wouldn't have happened a few years ago, and not just because of technological advances, but also because of cultural evolution. People were used to knowing the other person's 2nd cousin once removed, and the rest of their genealogical line, going back several generations.

While we are "strangers" in the sense that we can't really trace a bloodline personally, and that can be a discomfort because there is the quality of the unknown, as well as a bit of a risk, but our youth society as a whole is more likely to judge the individual in that way. I don't really care if you're the first person in your family going to college and your "ancestral manse" consists of a lot in a San Marcos, Texas trailer park. I care whether or not you're a nice person or an asshole, intelligent or stupid, whether you have a sense of humor or are a stick in the mud, curious or ignorant, well adjusted or fucked up, responsible or immature... I make those judgments based on what I know of the person, and they do the same for me.

I am fully aware that a person isn't who they are on the internet, and some people, I actually prefer their internet personas. We have time on the internet to process each thought as we type and post. I've probably deleted at least 1/3 of this post as I typed it, trying to most successfully get my point across without sounding like a slavering gibbering asshole. In conversation, especially over the phone, I am not nearly as articulate, but on the intertubes, I am a goddess of intellect with spell check and wikipedia at my side. I'm okay with the concept that people are different people in different contexts. It's just a part of how I grew up, and the experiences that shaped me.

So yes, I will continue to blog. I will continue to monitor my own interpretation of privacy, and to interact in my generation's version of community.