BuzzFeed Brews: A Social Experiment

Probably the most socially interesting part of “BuzzFeed Brews” Monday night was the pre-gathering in the upstairs bar of Jack Rose saloon, where guests were ushered before the doors downstairs opened.

In a word: awwkward.

People don’t really talk to one another anymore. They tweet, text, check their email and do anything to avoid human contact. One guy was even reading a magazine. For 10 or so torturous minutes, guests stood around in semi-tortured poses, each staring into his or her electronic devices.

A horrible commentary on life, indeed.

Things had to improve from here… Once the doors became ajar and the booze began flowing along with fried pickles and portabello mushrooms drizzled with pesto goat cheese sauce, some 160 guests found their voices and personalities and began conversing before the show began. The BuzzFeed crew took over a booth and began pounding away on their laptops, but were extremely friendly to most anyone who passed by.

The BuzzFeeders in attendance included Washington Bureau Chief John Stanton, Evan McMorris-Santoro, Kate Nocerra, newbie Katherine Miller and Political Editor McKay Coppins. Publicist Augusta Mellon was also on the scene from New York. Chicago Sun Times Washington Bureau Chief Lynn Sweet was spotted lingering around the BuzzFeed nerve center.

Also spotted in the crowd: Politico‘s Dylan Byers and The Blaze‘s Eddie Scarry.

The show was BuzzFeed Editor-in-Chief Ben Smith interviewing ex-Obama aides Tommy Vietor and Jon Favreau, a couple of twentysomethings who are having a rough time separating themselves from President Obama‘s White House and spend many of their days on Twitter, fighting.

They made no apologies for it.

“I will never be out completely,” admitted Vietor. When Smith told mentioned the “combative” tone he’s witnessed and announced that just that day he called Michael Wolf an asshole, Vietor replied, “Michael Wolf is an asshole. Ronan Farrow is the nicest guy.”

Vietor added, “We’re sort of cynical people n a cynical game. We should probably suppress it more than we do.” Smith adamantly advised against that, saying, “I don’t think you should suppress that.”

And Favreau, too, expressed how hard it is to leave 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue: “I thought it would be easier to separate from the White House and politics than it has been.” He acknowledged his daily Twitter fighting. He said he does not email Obama, nor does he have his email.

One question that we heard was maybe going to pop into the interview was if Obama smells as good as people imagine he does. Thankfully Smith didn’t let us down. Vietor said the President of the free world smells like the sunrise; Favreau said rainbows and cupcakes.

At some point during the interview, Smith looked out into the pack barroom and seemed to marvel at how packed it was. Explained Mellon, “I think people want to hear their story. They’re charismatic, young and fun and definitely intriguing characters.”

The barroom pre-show.

The BuzzFeed nerve center with Stanton, McMorris-Santoro.

Lynn Sweet presses Ben Smith on something before the show.

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