Why I Will Ban Cell Phones at My Shows When I Am Famous
by on May 5, 2012 in random posts

Last night I saw the Cranberries at Terminal 5 in New York.  It was a great show, but that’s not what this post is about.  As I was watching the show from the back of the room, all I could see in front of me was a sea of people holding up their phones, desperately trying to capture photos or videos of the moment – a moment that they were completely missing because they were far too busy trying to make sure that they were capturing the moment in the best way possible.

For me, going to a concert, or listening to music, is all about EXPERIENCING.  The reason we love music is because of how it makes us FEEL.  How can we be feeling anything at all if we are spending all of our brainpower trying to get a half-way decent photo of the lead singer striking a pose – so we can upload it immediately to Facebook, text it to our friends, and have it in our permanent digital libraries, so we can then later be nostalgic about a moment we weren’t present for to begin with? (I confess to my own singular transgression in this regard, however – I DID make a brief Facebook post announcing my arrival at Terminal 5 last night before the show started, so I’m no saint either, I suppose!).

I’ve been going to concerts regularly for over 20 years, and as smartphones have become more ubiquitous in our culture, I’ve watched the audience participation go from active and engaging to detached and self-absorbed.  It seems like, these days, we are more preoccupied with the IDEA that we are at a show, and our ability to instantaneously tell our social network what we are doing (and how cool/interesting/hip it makes us), than we are with actually BEING at the show.

Because of this, when I become famous, I will ban cell phones at my show.  Completely.  As in, you have to leave them at the door completely.  And not because I am an old Nazi bitch, either, but because I want to offer my fans the opportunity to experience music from a pure place, to give them an inductive experience of how much more wonderful experiences can be if we just allow ourselves to be immersed in them.  And perhaps it’s a little selfish, too – when I thought of the band last night, or any band, staring out at a sea of disengaged fans who were looking at the view they were capturing from their Iphones instead of up at the stage, I thought about how I would feel if I were them.  Because if I were up there, I would WANT to connect with my audience, because that’s why I’m there to begin with.  It’s why I do what I do.  And how can I connect with an audience that’s not really there?

2 Responses to Why I Will Ban Cell Phones at My Shows When I Am Famous

  1. Hey Siobahn,
    Totally agree. The experience,used to be what it was all about. not making sure you have a good shot of the stage. I remember being at concerts and feeling every bit of the music coursing through my veins. It would be about those moments when you thought that if the bass drum hit just at the right time, or if the guitars played that certain chord, your chest would explode with all of the emotion and euphoria you were feeling at that moment.

    Kind of hard feel when you are preoccupied with making sure that all of your friends know that you are at the concert, and that you can get some good video footage.

    I have shot video at shows, but I feel that might be because I’m too old to get in the pit now, or maybe there wasn’t one at the show.

    Or maybe there couldn’t be a pit since everyone was trying to get a steady shot with their phone.

    What a nasty viscious cycle…….

  2. I love the point you’re making. I myself am guilty of this. I noticed a few years back on a vacation that I missed a good portion of my trip and my experience with people I care about bc I was very busy capturing it (so I could save it, and then still have it when it was over) – this is not only silly because of what you’re raising (why do I want to capture something that I’m missing due to the fact that I’m trying to capture it versus being present to experience it) – but I think it also points to another issue which is: why in any moment do we not feel whole and complete?

    We spend so much of our time trying to acquire things so we can feel safe or complete rather than ask the simple question, ‘what’s missing in us that we don’t feel that now?’ No matter how many concert videos we capture, at the end of the day, it doesn’t change us. It doesn’t change who we are, it doesn’t change how we’ve lived, it doesn’t change what we’ve stood for; and certainly, it doesn’t change how much we enjoy our lives and our experience.

    Maybe instead of trying to obtain something that is never going to change us, we might try to connect with ourselves and experience the fullness and completeness in each moment. A good friend of mine, Keith Rainere – who I consider to be a very wise teacher – has guided me to question why I think things in the outside world will change something on the inside. This confusion has been the source of great disappointment in my life.

    Anyway, thank you for posting this. It gave me a lot to think about and reminded me to be present in my experience!

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