Saturday, September 26, 2015

Let's get this party departed


I love stuff like this. It’s exactly how I hope I never talk, though you could argue that I’ve already started: 

“When I was in college, we didn’t have smartphones. People actually had to look at and talk to each other! That’s how we facebooked.” 

Conversational protip: If you’re lamenting the death of blank, and blank doesn’t refer to someone who is deceased, you’re probably old. Not necessarily in terms of age, but in mindset. Because few activities truly die — they evolve.

Because no matter how technology affects us — and no matter how hard we drop said technology when it runs its course — people still want to stay informed. They want to stay connected with friends and family. They will always want music. As long as these needs have been around, the means we use have changed, and will continue to change. That’s the way of the universe.

So it is also with things like parties. Asking, “Whatever happened to parties?” is like asking, “Whatever happened to music?” because Bix Beiderbecke died. Parties and music are both still very much around, but they inevitably change over multiple generations. (Though in both cases, you can still find the original thing if you look.)

The so-called “death of parties” is most likely a case of the writer remembering the formal parties of their past and locking that in as their definition. We all do that from time to time and are generally insufferable when we do it.

“Remember when we had real music? At parties? You kids can’t even begin to understand.”

(Not that the article doesn’t have good points. In fact, it mostly consists of excellent points about changing tastes and the economy that I can personally attest to. Mostly I’m using it as a jumping-off point to expound upon a lifetime of hearing how much better things used to be before I came along. People almost always think the past was better, because we all lose innocence as we get older. What’s amazing is how few people are self-aware of this bias.)

What about parties? Last weekend I went to a friend’s house where other friends were also present. We all dressed in our Sunday best (shorts and T-shirts are best for Sundays) and sat around socializing and having pizza and (for some) beer. I did not for a second lament that we weren’t wearing suits, ties and gowns for the occasion, and eating expensive hors d’oeuvres and drinking gin (and chain-smoking) in some mansion purchased on an entry-level salary. That’s never been our frame of reference, so why pine for that?

But you know what was undoubtedly the same? How we looked forward to, and enjoyed, spending time together. Sixty years from now, the way we did it will probably seem quaint to the children of our future. They’ll find their own way in their own circumstances, just as we have. And when they do, may their elders not insist that parties are dead.

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