Galveston V.S. Tech
So, here is the thing about technology – it is awesome for some things, and a gigantic pain in the ass for others. When we think about what technology means for someplace like Galveston, we must ask ourselves, does the island want to be connected with a wallet tap on every register? A few might say yes, but take it from me, living in a tech wonderland has its downsides, too.
I live in Austin. Tech drives everything here. I know when a band is playing six months out. I also know what’s happening in the world of music, comedy, and entertainment that day, down to the hour. I see what hotspots are opening or shutting down. I have my choice of food and booze delivery service 24/7. My phone never stops going. I get notifications from news organizations about the day’s scandals, what deals the local taqueria is peddling for happy hour, and even what version of hell traffic on I-35 currently looks like. Our coffee shops are littered with people writing code, planning their start-up, or yapping over lattes about their new “mixed media company”. Whatever that means. We have every form of social media. You can use seven different versions of a dating app to meet someone, despite the emotional and psychological toll these dating apps can take on many users. Fun fact- Bumble was founded here, in Austin.
Cash is something the service industry uses primarily to tip other bartenders. For everyone else, most people trade currency by Venmo, PayPal, CashApp, or use their plastic. Paper money is an abstract concept. Our skyline is dominated by the world’s most prominent players: Google, Amazon, Facebook, and Oracle, and that is just what is downtown. IBM, Apple, Samsung, Instagram, and everyone you love (who secretly collects all your data) is here, too.
Do not think it is a foreign concept that some start-ups could move to the island and change everything. No really, just Google it (pun intended). It can happen anywhere. Before you know it, some nerd will be trying to sell you on his service to streamline yard cutting, and that is how the whole chaotic party starts.
Is Galveston ready for some of this spillover? Does Galveston want to be ready? When tech rolls in, so do the tech salaries, the highpriced condos, and someone willing to pay way more for that mom-and-pop fried shrimp spot that has been there for decades. Sure, it is nice to get a Big Mac delivered at three in the morning, but on the other hand everything here is judged by a Google Review or Yelp. Do you want that for the island?
Galveston still works on a handshake and a lunch overlooking the Gulf of Mexico. There is a beauty in these kinds of relationships. Unfortunately, in many cities around the country, human relationships built on a handshake and a hug are becoming a lost art. This is a result of cookie-cutter contracts that can be drawn up in minutes via an iPhone app, and the ease of putting everything in writing in real time.
Email is acceptable, but stick to your relationships (the old school way of doing business). Do you want a city of self-serve kiosks for every transaction? Then, come to Austin. Most of the time, when you sit in a watering hole on the island, folks are connecting with each other while enjoying a drink or bite to eat. They are not staring at their phones. Stay behind the times. Stay real and connected. Galveston is one of the last authentic places taking things slow – on island time. There are enough places driven by “the next big thing”, and the world has enough techno-dicks ruining the fun for everyone else. Could UberEATS work a little better? Sure, but do not get carried away with wanting everything we have up here in the big city of Austin. Galveston still knows the value of a handshake over an iPhone app.