Why We​ Should Learn to Stop ‘Connecting’ at Concerts: Put the Cell Phone Down!

My thoughts on here are usually based around education, young people, and technology. Today’s theme fits naturally then, and in all honesty, I don’t whine, but today I just could not help myself.

I am a country music fan, fight me if you please, but I am not ashamed. Regardless of genre, I found myself at a concert last night with a great friend, and even better, we had splurged for pit tickets up front. We both have had Keith Urban on our bucket list, concert list, and girls day list, so we were very excited to go to the perfect outdoor venue to enjoy a full show and a great night out. Yes, we are both twenty-somethings and enjoyed taking selfies, Snapchats, and Instagram pics standing in the pit, anxiously awaiting the performance. But in regard to those around us, I was shocked by how little we used our phones in comparison, and all night I kept wondering why.

I should add, we are slightly obsessed with live performances. We both get an electric high, that nothing can beat and when attending these concerts I can be sober, tired, sore – it doesn’t matter. Do you know what I mean? Years come off of my life and stress disappears when I get to bang my head, dance, and belt out the lyrics while feeling a connection with everyone around me, including the performers. The air can be sticky or extra cool, but the music still cuts my skin. It doesn’t matter the fame or notoriety – music is music- and it’s a gift. When people share their God-given talents in a way that can connect souls, give goosebumps, and take us away from the stress of the day to day, we all should be able to agree upon that one moment right?

So last night, the artists entered the stage and started to perform. We gushed, paused and then snapped a picture of each and took a few clips of our favorite song (10 seconds tops, I promise, you can search my phone). The rest of the show we sang, pointed, waved, bounced, laughed, and were so happy to be there – except when the – and I’m not even generalizing – Mom’s around us filmed the entire show on their cell phones. Yes, I know they were Moms for a fact since most had their kids with them, or I watched them text their kids, and yes I am not kidding, they videoed the entire show. One woman’s phone was at five percent and the video was over an hour long that she was holding up on her iPhone, directly in my line of sight. She must go to pilates or something because my arms would have been exhausted.

Now, I love the keepsake opportunity that cell phones provide, really. As a tech user and advocate, I enjoy checking in, tagging people on social media, and showing others what I’m up to. But I spent the whole show dodging the cell phones raised in front of my view, the ENTIRE time, and I kept wondering, why? Do we as humans even enjoy something when we video the whole thing? How often will they look back and watch the entire two-hour long video with excitement? Did they still feel the same way I did with a phone in front of their face? Could they multi-task and try and connect with the artists we were literally ten feet away from and film at the same time? Was Keith Urban himself frustrated every single time he stepped on stage and tried to have an intimate moment with fans only to be forced to look at the camera side of a device?

I’m not old-fashioned, and this may sound contradictory, but I use my cell phone for everything. I’m not complaining and mumbling about “Moms these days on their phones” like many people do about avid phone users. But in the educational technology field, and the world we live in, I constantly hear people complain about teenagers and millennials and their technology. Well let me just say, there were gaggles of teenage girls in the pit with us, many with their friends and yes, their moms. I honest-to-God barely saw a cell phone out of them, and I made it a point to check because I was actually getting frustrated at the amount someone else’s phone in my view was disrupting my connection with the heart and soul of the music. No matter what age group was doing this act against my concert-etiquette, I felt frustrated and confused about our evolution in such tender moments. It did make me think of our aptness to snap a picture of a serious accident, or intense moment and post it too soon. I know a concert doesn’t seem as serious as those instances to many, but to me, I was still clearly moved to concern.

 

Could this just be my one experience? Of course. Maybe it’s the only time it’ll ever pan out this way, and let’s say even the teenagers were doing it too. What role does videoing a fully live event have on our empathy, and relationship with music, performances, and in actuality life? Do you go to an event and feel it’s super important to film the entire thing? Do you feel like it wasn’t as important or “real” if you didn’t actually take full videos to post somewhere or share with friends? Will you not remember it as well? I know there are exceptions and reasons for everyone that does this possible, but I can’t help but wonder, if someone like me who so strongly views technology and phones as a positive tool and piece of equipment in our lives, why do I so strongly feel like this is something that can hurt our spirits and connections with one another after an event like this?

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