Despite countless Science-Fiction films telling us otherwise, we all know that advancement in technology brings a lot of good things to this world. We now have the means to never miss an e-mail, to never get lost, and to never lose a precious moment in time. Our phones, for most just another appendage, make life much simpler and more convenient for keeping in touch and staying current with the latest news – no matter how trivial.
That being understood, I think we all know that our mobile devices sometimes remove us from our surroundings to the point that we forget to appreciate the people, the beauty, and the events taking place around us. Now, when a group of friends goes out to eat to a restaurant, they each look at their phones instead of their menu, they each take pictures of their food and post it on Instagram instead of enjoying their piping hot meal, and they tweet instead of talking to the person sitting just across the table. This has gotten so out of hand that viral videos started popping up all over YouTube just to raise awareness to our generation’s obsession with constant contact.
I will be the first to admit my reliance on social media. My friends tease me for my relentless tweeting and my time consuming love of Vine. I will say, in technology’s defense, that without Facebook, Twitter, and Skype, my move across the country would have been unfathomably difficult. My old roommate, my family, my teammates and my best friend always just a Snapchat away makes being a quasi-grownup living on my own so much easier. So yes, my cell phone stays near me basically at all times. In reality, if I take a while to answer a text, I am either sleeping, showering, jogging, at work or at a concert. Yes, my friends, unless I am trying to meet up with somebody or schedule an interview during a concert, I try my hardest to keep my phone hidden in my pocket.
When I go to a show and see a crowd full of phone screens I immediately feel excruciating disappointment in everyone present. Put your phones away. I assure you that you can find a pretty high quality video of that same set you stand there and partially enjoy on YouTube. CaliberTV, for instance, uploads well shot footage with great sound quality of all of your favorite bands. AltarTV does this as well. You do not need to stand in the audience taking low quality pictures with your iPhone, nor do you need to take shaky videos with overshot sound that you can upload to Instagram later. If you want to “relive” that moment when your favorite band played your favorite song, you can just hop online and find it for free.
Maybe you want to take a video for your friend who could not make the show. How thoughtful of you! Just remember, your friend can also find the performance on YouTube. Instead of sending her a video or picture, just call her. Call up your friend after the show and tell her all about it, tell her every detail. Like how badly the person next to you smelled or how much it hurt when that ill-timed crowd surfer fell on your head. I guarantee she will enjoy hearing the excitement in your voice more than she would enjoy seeing a scrappily shot video overwhelmed with screaming fan girls. I also guarantee that she will treasure a phone call from you far more than almost any picture you could possibly send her.
If you want to take pictures solely so you can put them on social media, ask yourself why you want to do that. To get attention from the band? To prove you were there? To make people jealous? To find the best filter on Instagram? Think about your intentions for a second. Instead of publicly showcasing the fun you could be having without your phone in your face, just close your eyes for a moment and really feel the bass rattle your insides. In the moment, wedged between both strangers and friends, screaming the lyrics as loudly as you can – that sensation will trump the superficial and fleeting happiness you experience when your Instagram picture gets a lot of likes. I promise.
If you absolutely must take a few pictures for your own sanity, then at least give yourself conditions. For example, have your phone out for only one song, just one. That will give you a solid three and a half minute photo-shoot to satisfy your need to document the event. Not even the press can sit and take pictures for a whole set, maybe you might consider following suit. On a side note: If you want to stand in the front row all night and complain to your friend via text about how the person next to you has the most annoying voice in the world and how much the opening band sucks, then maybe you should find something else to do with your Friday nights. Nothing insults a band more than standing there texting during their set. You are being equally rude to the boy in the audience who came that night just to see the opening band who you fervently ignore and to the bands who work their asses off to play on that stage. Do not be that person.
In closing, updating your Snapchat Story with a ten second video of a live performance should not even be on your list of priorities. Just have fun! Meet the people around you. I have met some of the most interesting and beautifully unique people by striking up a conversation with them at a concert. I can name at least five friends who I simply would not have in my life had I been looking down at my phone. Because of the tininess of this scene, finding a group of buddies at a show means that you will most likely run into those buddies again at a different concert… cherish that.