I am honored that I get to go around to different American cities and speak about nerdy stuff like music, policy, technology, law and the aesthetics of sound. I have a blast exchanging ideas and perspectives in feisty conversation with the best and the brightest of these intersected worlds. But I’m not such a fan of crowds, loud noises and other things that lead to overstimulation in this peculiar brain of mine.
That’s why I’m struggling with this year’s SXSW. I had a rough first night due to some peripheral nonsense, and it really hasn’t gotten much better. I love music, but not the live rock ‘n’ roll version, which for me, provides little payoff to go with the disorientation and fatigue. I also don’t like crowds of people, unless I’m in front of them. But not while performing music — I gave that up some time ago. I understand why most musicians feel the need to play live, because I’ve been lucky enough to have had some enthusiastic (and sizable) crowds. It’s a powerful feeling. Still, it was never enough to make up for the innumerable associated annoyances. Just ask my former bandmates.
I could blame a lot of this on my high-functioning autism, but I’m wondering how much of it is also just my personality. I wish I’d pursued an academic track, that way I could “perform” and engage intellectually, albeit in a controlled setting with fewer variables.
I’m frankly embarrassed to be saying any of this here, because I feel tremendously guilty for not “having fun” with all the other party people. I also don’t make it my business to “piss on hospitality,” to quote Troll II. I like public speaking and brainy debate. I just wish it didn’t come with all this crowding and noise.