Be polite and put your phones away

Francie Johnson

It’s 8 o’clock at night. You’re surrounded by what seems like a million people, a million pairs of eyes all staring at one thing: the stage. You’ve been waiting months for this concert, but these last few minutes have dragged on for what feels like centuries.

Finally the audience goes dark and the stage illuminates – the universal signal that the show will soon begin. In that instant, a million tiny lights pop up in every direction, revealing a million tiny stages displayed on a million tiny screens. Sound familiar?

If you’ve ever been to a concert, I’m willing to bet it does. Cellphones at concerts have become as typical as books in libraries or Solo Cups at parties. From the moment a band takes the stage up until the moment it plays its final note, the crowd snaps, texts and tweets away.

Enough is enough.

I know how much we all love our smartphones, but guys, we’ve got to stop. Seriously. Put your phones away when you’re at a concert. You’ll enjoy the show a whole lot more, not to mention the poor people behind you who are sick of watching the concert through your 2×4-inch cellphone screen.

From Bob Dylan to Björk, more and more artists have started requesting that fans refrain from cellphone usage during concerts. Last March, Wesley Schultz of the Lumineers even cut short a performance of “Ho Hey” to beg fans to ditch the technology and “just be human for a while.”

So many of us want to capture every moment of the concerts we attend, but what’s the point? I promise you, the world can live without 126 blurry, unrecognizable pictures of the band you saw last night. Most likely, no one will even look at them. I doubt you will even look at them after you’ve filed them all away in some Facebook photo album.

And if constantly taking pictures at concerts is bad, don’t even get me started on recording videos. Repeat after me: Your. Video. Will. Sound. Terrible. You’ll probably record more of your own awful singing voice – which at this point will sound more like screaming – than you will of the actual band.

Think about it: Why on earth would you want to watch a show through a screen when it’s literally happening in front of your face? You did not pay $60 to stare at your cellphone screen. Watching bands perform on screens is what people do when they can’t be there in person.

Obviously photographing and recording at concerts is a major pet peeve of mine, but I can still understand why people do it. I used to take at least 50 photos of every concert I went to, so I get it. We live in the age of social media, where if something isn’t facebooked, tweeted or instagrammed, it’s almost like it didn’t happen. But the thing is, it did happen. Even if no one else knows you were at that concert, you still know. Contrary to popular belief, it’s possible to enjoy yourself without constantly divulging every last detail, complete with video and photographic evidence.

That being said, there’s nothing wrong with taking the occasional concert picture, as long as it’s not consuming your entire experience. Here’s what I’ve started doing: Toward the beginning of every concert I go to, I pull out my phone and snap a single Instagram-worthy shot. That’s it. For the rest of the show, my phone stays in my pocket. This way, I get my photo, but I also get to truly experience the show.

When people say a picture is worth a thousand words, they definitely don’t mean blurry, cellphone concert photos. These types of photos are worth exactly one word: ugh.