Texting, cellphones, and digicams at concerts

My favorite band is on the road; every night the fan forums have threads with real-time comments on set lists,etc. People at the show are calling and texting their friends-- who in turn post song-by-song updates. Of course they have their camera phones and compact digital cameras held up–hundreds of tiny phosphorescent things like bic lighters or glow sticks from ye olden days.

I have mixed feelings (mostly negative) about this.

On one hand, people at home can vicariously attend a concert–get a sense of community as the posts come in. Have a once-removed discussion about the gig.

On the other hand…hmmm. I’m reminded of Pete’s commentary on the Tommy/Quadrophenia concert DVD’s; he talks about why they used to play SO LOUD:**

**That’s NOT how it is these days. People have their compact digital cameras, Blackberries and iPhones–you can reach out and touch somebody who is yelling into their cellphone or holding it up so their friend can hear Baba O’Riley over a tinny little speaker. And now people are texting in the songs in real time. Ah, ain’t technology grand?

I’m no Luddite (I’m posting this, aren’t I?), but all of those things are horrible distractions. I’m there to experience the performance. Otherwise, I might as well head down to the bar and watch it on the closed-circuit video feed.

What do Dopers think about this? Just a sign of the times? Is phoning or IM’ing friends to say “I’m at THE WHO CONCERT!!! YEEE HAWWW!” just part of the whole 21st Century Concert-Going Gestalt? Whatever floats your boat, I guess. Enjoy the gig however you wish…just stay off my lawn, okay?

My uncle was visiting recently for my grandparents’ 65th wedding anniversary. He was given some quite expensive wine as a gift and the family got to sample probably the most expensive wine that I’ll ever drink in my life. It was pretty good, and I was noting that being an avid wine connoisseur is a funny thing. Unless you’re an uber-millionaire, and even if you are, a lot of your experiences are going to be one-time events. You’ll have a particular wine only one time in your life. You live the experience and move on. Kind of cool. There’s no hording of experience. To enjoy the wine is to loose it.

This is relevant because it stands in contrast to the world we’ve grown into, where every thing is recorded, kept, and horded. We don’t have to loose anything ever. E-mails, thousands of photos, everything is archived and kept for exact recollection at a later date. The problem is that people become more obsessed with preserving old experiences than they are with experiencing new ones. You must document or the event has no meaning, or you might forget!

If you have to record with your cell phone the whole time, or update your website so the world knows where and what you are doing, then your appreciation of the event becomes chained to your ability to document. You’ve decided that the experience will be better if you hold your cell phone up for half the songs and record than if you leave the cell in your pocket and just groove to the music.

Which, of course, is totally an individual’s call, and I don’t begrudge people that. I do think that many people would ultimately get more satisfaction out of life if they put down the technology and were present for more of their present.