Performers Push Audiences to Unplug

Drop The Phone – Catch The Show!

In several recent posts, I’ve encouraged you to “unplug” from the office, in order to help restore some balance between your working and personal lives.  While I still think that’s an important step, a recent article reminded me that “work” isn’t the only thing we need to unplug from. Turns out, it is not just our jobs, but our own obsession with our smartphones and other electronic devices that is preventing us from getting the most from our lives in many ways.

The article, in the Guardian, cited numerous instances of famous singers and bands confronting audience members who throw up a wall of cameras, cellphones and tablets in an attempt to record pieces of the show instead of enjoying it in the moment.  Adele, for example, suggested a concert-goer put her video camera down and “enjoy it in real life, instead of through your camera.”

Alicia Keys, Guns and Roses, the Lumineers and other acts have actually utilized a new technology that helps prevent that situation. It creates “phone-free zones” in which audience members are required to seal their phones in lockable pouches in order to enter. Only by leaving the zone is the owner able to unlock the pouch and use the device.

A Case of Me-Opia

It’s not hard to imagine how we got here. It does seem as if many people today don’t go to a concert to enjoy the performance, but rather to announce to everyone else that they attended. Apparently, earning “cool” points is more satisfying than truly engaging with the performer. So they sacrifice their expensive live experience in order to make a poor quality snippet to be shared with others on a two-inch screen. Instead of watching and listening, they are, instead, fiddling with, adjusting and aiming their cellphone cameras.

Chances are, the most memorable experiences in your life had your full attention at the time; you didn’t watch them happen on a screen. Real experiences are up close and personal, and if your electronic gadgetry is getting in the way of that, it may be time to rethink your priorities.

Not To Mention – It’s Rude

It must, indeed, be a disconcerting experience for a performer to look out at the audience and see a wall of cellphones and cameras instead of the smiling, excited faces they were expecting.  Beyond that, recording and circulating those little videos may be seen by some performers as the “theft” of their talents. Relatively few performers will call out the guilty parties, but it creates an unpleasant atmosphere.

And think of the feelings of other audience members who really have come to enjoy the show. Their view is obstructed as they are forced to peek over, between and through the implements held aloft by inconsiderate fans in front of them who are determined to “shoot and share.”

Would A Pouch Help You and Your Family Unplug?

That pouch idea sounds like a logistical nightmare, but it provides a perfect mental image for you and your family to unplug. Pick a certain time of the day, perhaps it’s the hours after you get home from work and share dinner with your family, and put your phone into an imaginary pouch. Of course, a real pouch or lockable drawer might help even more.

Or to protect your sleep, put your phone in that pouch from 9 p.m. until 6 a.m. and only a real emergency (not a random work thought), justifies you opening it to get at your device. Of course it’s the honor system in this case, but maybe making it just a little less convenient, will be enough to do the trick.

Be A Bit More Selfish

Being a bit more selfish may sound a bit odd, but we need to give ourselves permission to carve out some reasonable amount of time for our families and our other interests without worrying about what someone at the office will think. Loyal employees earn plenty of respect, but lapdogs command little.

We also need to allow ourselves the pleasure of enjoying a performance without feeling the need to somehow impress friends and boast about our attendance on social media. While you fuss with technology, the moments you miss are gone forever.

Are you an “over-sharer?” How many selfies have you taken today? Is your multi-tasking at concerts causing you to “miss” it? Let me know if you agree with the pouch idea and how you are dealing with the distractions of technology in the comments below.

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