State of the City? Tweeting Toward Gomorrah.

Las Vegas has had some less-than-chirpy recent news. Can techtopian thinking really fix what ails us?


It was with great civic pride that citizens embraced the news, at the start of the annual State of the City address on January 9, that Mayor Carolyn Goodman would allow live tweeting while she spoke. Here was an indication of a metropolis that was, if not on the bleeding edge, then sufficiently churning toward progress. The tweets were then scrolled onto a large screen in the Council Chambers as the mayor spoke, so that, as the Las Vegas Review-Journal later reported, “audience members could read what others were writing” during the speech.

The feat took place atop the day’s other headlines—“National report finds Nevada students have poor chance for success” (#suckitup); “Nevada continues to rank poorly in numbers of doctors, nurses” (#eathealthy)— and could have included a subtext: Stay focused on your navel. Indeed, the mayor joked, “I give permission to all of you to look down.”

And so the state of the city is good. Zappos is fine. Tony Hsieh: fine. The Las Vegas Metro Chamber of Commerce is moving from Town Square, way out there at the south end of the Strip which is not even in the Las Vegas city limits and besides that it’s a mall, to a closer-to-the-navel spot at The Smith Center, which will “add to the energy” of Downtown (#echochamber).

In other areas of the city, the limits of which, according to some maps, extend east to Nellis Boulevard and west beyond Interstate 215, almost nothing happened. Happens. Ever. Take that neighborhood between Jones and Rainbow boulevards north of Charleston—houses, people, schools (#where?). Or that neighborhood near Vegas Drive and Rancho Drive (#sortaNLV).

But if a Downtown theme was ricocheting within the Council Chambers, it was an echo of a broader cultural tendency to do exactly the same: sink into a never-ending niche community—the new navel, if you will—and post the hell out of it. It’s the socio-techno selective pseudo-reality of our times. #Proveyouexist.

In fact, a few miles from City Hall, where tweeting was happening, the world’s other tech lovers were doing their annual pilgrimage to the Consumer Electronics Show at the Las Vegas Convention Center. There, the future showed up as cars that drive for you (so you can live-tweet?), headgear that keeps you visually emerged in 3-D movies and games, and the world’s first connected toothbrush, which lets users “keep exact track, through its mobile app, of how they brush their teeth” (#finally).

The city (broadly speaking) also welcomed the annual AVN Adult Entertainment Expo, where CES’ display of trends toward automated and self-directed technologies happily morphs into amazing new ways to auto-selfie through advancements in #porn.

All of this is to say that Mayor Goodman is right. The state of the city, as we launch into 2014, is fine—good, even, if you dwell on select blocks in the city’s navel, or navels generally.

Sure, we need more cops and less traffic accidents (#kudosGoodman). And maybe we do still have the nation’s highest number of underwater houses, and maybe, as a state, we rank last in available doctors in most specialties. (#stophating). These are good times for Las Vegas. In case you haven’t heard, the Discovery Channel is planning a reality show set behind the scenes at Las Vegas City Hall. #yay.



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