Midnight in the Garden of P’s And Q’s

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A bastion of polite society, millions flock annually to Charleston to drink deeply from our trough of authentic Southern hospitality.  Our citizenry make eye contact and smile.  Our horses wear diapers.  A typical Lowcountry stand-off is less a confrontation between pistol-wielding Confederates than a protracted mutual beseechment to please take that contested front-row parking spot at the Wal-Mart.  Don’t worry, we’ll find another.  Even public insult of our Governor elicits a kindly blessing-of-one’s-heart rather than a purposefully-timed lane closure on one of our fine local bridges.

The most recent debutantes in our civic cotillion are digital entrepreneurs.  The public face of this migration is, surprisingly, not Mindy Taylor, but the Charleston Digital Corridor. Amidst the noise of a rowdy election season, they have quietly recruited a seven select startups, most of whom are relocating to our Holy City.

These new arrivals have brought carpet bags full of plans that combine Charleston’s long tradition of extreme hospitality with modern takes on business.  Monetization schemes based on being nice on the surface while talking trash in private circles, and Saturday drinking as fuel for Sunday prayers, will find a uniquely appropriate home along our cobbled streets.

Let’s see who’s stepping off the boat –

For starters, there is Eat Drink Healthy.  We’re not exactly sure what this is, but if you are willing to venture past the security certificate warnings on their website, you’ll find a logo that resembles a shot glass being dropped into a precariously tilted pint of … Guinness?  Is this the rumored Irish-car-bomb sharing app?  Could this be the same company behind the green beer mind-control conspiracy?  The heavy shades of okra-green are a good start thematically, but it would be hard to describe most Southern vegetables as ‘healthy’.

NotMe is the premier platform for attending pool parties with guys that wear their hats backwards and then denying that you were there at all.  The target market is hipsters who like private beaches, people who own boats, and bikini-clad ex-sorority types that enjoy dancing to violin music.  Don’t be fooled.  There is more to this outfit then just a baffling selection of two-tone stock imagery.  We expect a full-on reality show to emerge.

Of course if you are going to attend – and not attend – the right parties, you are going to need a steady stream of excuses.  Unbooked’s algorithms conveniently send regrets to people on your Google Calendar to relieve you from commitments when your social life requires it.  It’s unlimited cloud storage means that you will never have to explain how Auntie Marjorie managed to have two funerals.

Sovi claims to save you money on tickets for local concerts, but their long term plan is to deliver a captive audience to product placement ads. We are fulling expecting to see Widespread Panic brought to you by Zoloft.

Church membership is a pillar of polite society, but can sometimes involve waking up early on the weekends, and bonding with less-than-stellar social connections.  Faith Street allows you to join a church and tithe on-line.  But take it one step further, add some big data, machine learning, and social media awareness and this app will enable you to carefully tailor your spiritual experience to improve your personal brand, all while they derive profits from paid content that reinforces to your deepest fears and guarantees a steady income of click-bait revenue.

If you aren’t attending a local church, you’ll need to assert your moral authority by championing social causes.  But you have got to stay current. Overworked carriage horses are old news.  Public restrooms for seagulls is the new cause célèbre.  Enter Zimzet to present you with a steady stream of better-than-thou social causes.  The altruistic act of charity is now a profit center.

Designated drivers are a thing of the past.  With Duvet, you can rent a place to sleep by the hour and drive your own car home.  For a few extra bucks, they will even post an artisanal morning-after video directly to Facebook so your parents will know that you are making something of yourself.

The hospitality-mining industry is off to a good start, and we can think of no place more appropriate.  Let them bet on trolling and snark in other cities. We welcome these new additions and their contributions to Charleston’s core industry – importing Yankees and exporting civility.

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