Woodstock, ’69. And a gig today. Can you spot the difference? It cannot be denied that technology has radically changed our society and our daily lives, with this change being particularly astronomical and noticeable in the past 40 years or so. When looking at the two photos above, one can question whether this change is positive or has its negative impacts. Has technology stripped away our ability to enjoy something at face value, or does it allow us to spread that enjoyment to others via forums like YouTube? In the first image, Jimi Hendrix is seen mesmerising a crowd at Woodstock, with everybody’s undivided attention focused solely towards him. In the second image, however, the first thing that captures your attention is not the artist, but the phones that are being held up by the audience. Everybody’s main concern seems to be to record and document the concert. Of course, wanting to record an amazing concert and post it online or keep the footage for the memories is perfectly reasonable. But does it limit your ability to enjoy the actual concert if your face is glued to your screen for the entire night? Watching the concert through your phone as you film it seems idiotic when the show is going ahead right in front of you, in startling, vivid real-life 3D, rather than reprocessed on your phone. The actual footage that you capture is probably not going to be that stellar anyway, when all you have captured is the noise of the crowd and the blinding lights of the stage. The endless glow of smartphones is also disruptive to everybody else in the crowd. One band that’s had enough of seeing a horde of smart phones every time they look out at the audience is the Yeah Yeah Yeah’s, with the band posting this sign at their concerts:
As wonderful as technology, and certainly smartphones, can be, it’s important to not let it become your fifth limb. Why would you pay to go to a concert, or any event for that matter, only to be one of the thousands holding up their phone and not truly absorbing the experience? Put the phone down for half an hour, and give the artist the respect they deserve from their audience!