Opinion
By Séamus Smyth

Rock demigod Jack White recently left the stage unexpectedly early this past month to the disdain of the New York City audience. No official reason has been given, however it was noted that at the beginning of the show, he had asked audiences to refrain from filming the show or snapping images. Of course to ask this of an audience in 2012 is the equivalent of asking them to refrain from using Facebook or Twitter for the next month.

In all likelihood the audience ignored the rare, but understandable request and Jack White may, or may not have been angered by their disobedience. What does remain is that the obnoxious presence of smart phones has become an unavoidable vexation at virtually any major concert. It is preposterous how the more prolific the song, the higher number of people reach for their phones to film the experience, rather than jump up and down like a wild animal with unrestrained benevolence.

When did concert-goers become incapable of existing in the moment?

Who is it that is so important that rather than enjoy a band’s signature hit by waving one’s hands back and forth, one is instead carefully maneuvering their phone to capture the best possible angle of the performance to ostensibly show afterwards?

It has come to a point where individuals need their experiences to be validated. No longer can one just share a story orally and feel fulfilled with their shared experience. No, they must convey their experience through film or image to friends and family as some twisted technological badge of honour.

Men and women at concerts now routinely sacrifice their own personal enjoyment in favour of the gratification felt from social media acceptance.

To post a performance of Jack White on YouTube has somehow managed to trump the memory of actually having seen him play with one’s own eyes.

The behaviour has made watching live performances on Jimmy Kimmel Live or outdoors festivals captured on television borderline embarrassing. Rather than witnessing a massive mosh pit ensue or a crowd roaring in unison, one is instead treated to a never-ending field of smart phones zoomed in on the performance. How odd it is for one to film these specific spectacles, with the knowledge that the concert is being broadcasted in HD across the continent, an undoubtedly superior format.

It is life in general that is becoming increasingly mangled by obsessive smart phone use, yet concerts provide the clearest example.

Our society is becoming so completely enthralled with impressing peers that men and women have actually begun to sacrifice their own spiritual enjoyment in favour of brief envy and wonder.

It is a robotic and mechanized approach to life that must be one of the most uninspiring ordeals musicians have come across. Rarely can a modern artist even peer into the eyes of a fan anymore because the fan’s eyes are now impeded by a new, brighter, but undeniably lifeless set of eyes; a glaring smart phone camera.

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