To be fair, it was theoretically voluntary. It was a "morale" event for my team at work. I was previously asked whether, if they decided on the Vegas trip which I was the sole "I'd rather not" in the votes for, if I'd go anyway; the way it was phrased made me suspicious that the entire thing would be scuttled if I said no, which was a position I really didn't want to be in, so I agreed to go along with it.
Las Vegas is, from a psychological perspective, fascinating. Many words worldwide have been dedicated to describing the way casinos, specifically, are designed to try to break you down emotionally and make you just spend more time at a slot machine; I have concluded that it goes well beyond the casinos, as parasitic businesses have sprung up to take advantage of already-weakened cognitive states.
Las Vegas is a city that has built its identity around tourism. Like Paris Hilton's fame for being famous, Las Vegas is a tourist destination because it is a tourist trap. Its greatest economic resource is its identity: it defines itself as a place of wild, rampant hedonism, reveling in bad judgment and vice. Not that I have any moral qualms with it, personally; I'm attempting to explain its identity, because that is core to how it is profitable. Vegas is a place of lowered inhibitions because you are in Vegas before it has any other particular reasons. The alcohol and deliberately chaotic environment of casinos is part of it, of course, but I at this point believe that Vegas' most valuable resource is, like so many other brands, merely its name. The idea is that it is okay to do things a person ordinarily wouldn't while in Vegas, so that concept and brand is pushed for profit.
I suppose I don't have much to say about the trip itself. The Cirque du Soleil show was excellent, but as much as I enjoyed it I can't say it made going a net good idea. I tried to be psychologically prepared to handle the crowding and noise and chaos, but I wasn't ready for the lack of an indoor smoking ban, and I certainly wasn't ready for the public drunkenness and displays of alcohol. So, that added to my stress until I could no longer just "deal with" the noise, and I was fortunate enough to be the one guy not sharing a hotel room so I could emotionally break down in relative peace. (We had an even number of people, but exactly one woman, so she got her own room and then I wound up the one other unpaired person.) That happened while everybody else was out getting dinner, but from what I heard I didn't miss a whole lot other than a fairly long wait for food and quite a lot more noise than even the extroverted people on the team wanted. I think buying a badly overpriced parfait from the hotel/casino's coffee stand thing and going and trying to hide and de-stress in my assigned room really was the best choice.
So, I have every intention to not be back; the high points were not enough to "cancel out" the low points (I don't think there's really much of anything that would make me tolerate that kind of overload voluntarily, honestly), and now I have a much stronger position from which I can feel better about saying "no, I would rather stay home and work" next time the question is asked. I suppose, in a weird and backwards way, as a team-building and morale event it was successful; my team unquestioningly respected my need to bow out of dinner, and haven't brought up my poor endurance for the entire thing, and that's really the best way to leave it.
I do think it was worth trying once, as pretty much a worst possible scenario for my tendency to overload in chaotic environments, combined with my fear of drunkenness and allergies to cigarette smoke. I am much more confident, however, that it is not worth trying a second time.
I've migrated to DreamWidth. The original post is at http://kistaro.dreamwidth.org/486756.html. View comments at http://kistaro.dreamwidth.org/486756.html#comments; go ahead and use OpenID to post your own, or you can comment here.