The effect was immediately noticeable upon entering the concert bowl. Aside from the time-travel-like strangeness of seeing a crowd devoid of blue screens, there was a palpable sense of engagement, as though—and it sounds so strange to say it—everyone came just so they could be there.
People were visibly enjoying the opening band, at least in part because that band no longer compete with the entire internet for the crowd’s attention. Even the crowd’s milling around and chatting between acts was so much more lively. People were either talking to their neighbors, or taking in the room. And everyone taking in the room was taking in the same room. It felt great.
…Distracted concert crowds are a problem worth addressing, but it’s a small one, relatively speaking. I don’t think we’ve even begun to comprehend the full cost of our devices on our lives, particularly on our social structures, the development of our children, and our overall mental health. When the long-term studies start coming out, we’re going to be appalled.
I imagine that in another decade or two we’ll look at 2010s-era device use something like we do now with cigarette smoking. I was born in 1980, and I remember smoking sections on planes, which is unthinkable today. I wonder if today’s kids will one day vaguely remember the brief, bizarre time when people didn’t think twice about lighting up a screen in the middle of a darkened concert hall.
I can get behind this. I occasionally go through a phase where I leave my phone at home and there are a few things you notice. First thing I notice is that the cell phone has a cigarette like pull on me. When I used to smoke, the first thing I would do when I had a free second is reach for a smoke. Waiting for the band to clear the stage, smoke. Waiting for other to show up to rehearsal, smoke. Waiting for the bus, smoke. Same damn thing with a cell phone.
The second thing you notice is everyone glued to their damn phones EVERYWHERE. It’s like “They Live”. It’s really odd to see it and not be of it. This is a nice paragraph as well.
Every time someone in a group of people deploys a screen, the whole group is affected. Each disengaged person in a crowd is like a little black hole, a dead zone for social energy, radiating a noticeable field of apathy towards the rest of the room and what’s happening there.
We all know this feeling from being at a restaurant table when one person has “discreetly” ducked out into their screen. Even while everyone else is happily chatting face-to-face, everyone feels the hole.
The full strength of this black-hole effect on today’s social events can be hard to appreciate, because it has crept into our lives so gradually. But it sure was obvious in a venue at which everyone’s ripcord has been checked at the door. So much more attention stayed in the room, and it was palpable.
Think I may give the no cell phone outside the house thing again…..