Living through the lens

Ryan Redding

If a concert is held in a park, but no one posts about it, did the concert really happen? Forget a tree falling, this is the new question that should be pondered by future generations.

With Music Midtown coming to an end this past weekend, it is becoming more obvious that concerts have taken a new appearance in the past decade. What was once a sea of passionate music lovers chanting their favorite songs back at the artist has become a blur of artificial light moving to capture the perfect shot through a lens. But why has this happened?

Growing up in the early 80’s, my mom definitely has some stories to tell about how wild concerts used to be. Def Leapord, Montly Crew, and Lynard Skynard are just a few of the bands that she saw growing up, and when she recalls seeing these bands her face lights up with enthusiasm.

Times have changed however and now she even admits that if she went to a concert tomorrow, she would be holding her phone up along with the rest of the crowd. This has to do with the fact that she is the self-proclaimed “Facebook Queen” and has many friends to impress; Therein lies the problem.

Social Media has turned every person from living their life in the moment to living it through a camera lens. Making a connection through the music with the people surrounding who are experiencing the exact same thing is no longer enough. We now feel a void in us if we do not let every single person know exactly how much fun we are having.

East Georgia junior Shawn Tran made it a point to not have his phone out when he saw the Chainsmokers perform last summer. He was not even a big fan of the Chainsmokers before attending the concert, but once he became immersed in the experience it nearly brought him to tears. When I asked him about the concert he said this,

“It could not have been a better night, I just felt at one with the music. I just jumped around with everyone and had a great time. It is something that I will never forget.”

In 2016, a video taken in Verona, Italy during an Adele concert went viral. The video showed an annoyed Adele addressing a woman at her concert who apparently was recording her the entire time. The irritated mega star chose to stop mid-show and say,

“I want to tell that lady as well, can you stop filming me with a video camera? Because I’m really here in real life, you can enjoy it in real life, rather than through your camera.”

Musicians such as Alicia Keys and Childish Gambino, and even comedians like Dave Chappelle and Louis C.K. also realize the disconnect found in today’s audiences and are taking a less confrontation approach to resolve the problem. These entertainers are now making all their events “phone free”. This, however, does not mean they are tackling the impossible feat of getting people to leave their phones at home. Instead, these performers are using a new pouch that keeps phones locked inside.

These pouches, called Yondr phone pouches, are becoming more and more popular in the live entertainment industry. The founder of the company, Graham Dugoni, came up with the idea after watching a drunk man dancing at a music festival. In an interview with the Washington Post Dugoni said this the experience,

“He was pretty drunk, and two strangers were videotaping the guy, and I watched them, over their shoulder, posting on YouTube. If a guy can’t go to a concert and just kind of let loose, what does that do to all interactions in the social sphere?”

We are the beta generation for this wave of cutting edge technology. These new products getting thrown at us left and right have no rules attached. The lines are currently blurred between what should and should not be shared. At some point there must be self-evaluation involved. When has the point been reached where all actions are done for an audience instead of self?