Editorial: Is The Cellphone Ruining Our Concert Experience?

Editorial: Is The Cellphone Ruining Our Concert Experience?

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“They call it a selfie? . . . . I call it taking a lonely”
Sebastian Maniscalco, Comedian

So here’s the deal. Who hasn’t been to a show and been interrupted by a “selfie” or what I call a “collector”–the term I have given to a person who seeks to collect and grab pics or vids in the hopes of tweeting, texting, snapchatting, posting, gramming, or, vining them. I know I have been. In fact, I think the most popular question that some concert goers seem to ask is whether there is wi-fi at the venue. Stated in its most colloquial sense I have to ask….What the &%$#@????  This new practice of “documenting your experience via cellphone” suggests to be a dramatic departure from the traditional concert experience where it was the performer who led the experience; now, it appears that some of the concert goers themselves are the feature act or at least they think they are. Selfie

So that begs the question; is that a problem? I guess that depends on your point of view but for me, it is a problem. My reasoning is simple. I paid money to see a particular performer on a stage–not thousands of them on display right in front of me. Somehow the “smartphone” has become the “star” of the show and I don’t why.

Here’s a sad sad fact. Consider this quote from a member of Rolling Stone magazine:

“Attention spans are at an all-time low and the ubiquity of smartphones has resulted in a huge percentage of the audience at any given show barely paying attention to the action onstage.”

Indeed, according to a T-Mobile survey 47% of audience members text during shows.

Note the interesting generational divide brought about by cellphones
Note the interesting generational divide brought about by cellphones

But there are some real reasons why this practice is bad which are separate and apart from personal preference. Consider this.

First, by being so consumed with documenting your experience you really are missing out on what you supposedly came to see in the first place. Think about it. You replace viewing and spectating with analyzing the show in real time in the hopes of framing or videoing that perfect shot. Your focus on simply enjoying the show and taking in the moment are invariably lost.

Second, there is an inescapable distraction that you cause to fellow concert goers around you. If it’s not the light from your cellphone which bothers or distracts the person standing or sitting next to you, it’s your fervor over being an amateur photographer or videographer.

Finally, we sometimes forget that performers themselves get annoyed with this practice. For example, who remembers the incident from August of 2014 when icon Peter Frampton took a fan’s cellphone and threw it? (You can read CBS News’ report on that incident here).

Editor’s Note: In fairness, not all performers are bothered by selfie takers and who wasn’t moved by Bruce Springsteen’s recent catering to a 13 year old fan at a show he did in Baltimore on April 20. The child’s face is priceless and it appears the Boss was happy to oblige. Check out the video for that event below:

Interestingly, there is a vendor on the market who addressed this very issue and maybe you have heard of them; they are called Yondr and you can reach their website here. According to Yondr their mission statement is as follows:

“Smartphones have fundamentally changed how we live. How to integrate them into our lives as a useful tool, rather than a compulsive habit, is a question that needs an answer. We think smartphones have incredible utility, but not in every setting. In some situations, they have become a distraction and a crutch—cutting people off from each other and their immediate surroundings. Yondr has a simple purpose: to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it.”

It’s worth a few minutes of your time to see how this wonderful company has sought out to create a cell-phone free zone. In this digital world we live in, that seems almost too good to be true.

So, the good news is that there appears to be a growing awareness of this issue and possible solutions to it. The bad news is that it still goes on. But, in time that may change….hopefully, that is. Don’t worry, I will send you a text when it does or maybe even a lonely.

Ken “K Bo” Biedzynski, Editor

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KEN “K BO” BIEDZYNSKI
Senior Editor, Beato's Blog

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