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Thursday, June 23, 2016

Phone Free Events

Here's an idea I heartily endorse.

Performers including Alicia Keys, Louis CK, and the Lumineers have told fans that their concerts are "phone-free events." You can leave your smartphone in your car or at home or, if you simply can't part with it while at the venue, lock it up in a pouch from the company Yondr. If you choose the latter, you carry your phone around in the pouch, but can't use it inside the venue. If need be, you can step outside, have your pouch unlocked, and call/text/browse all you like until you go back inside.

Having a phone-free event allows comedians to try out new material in a small club before it's ready for mass consumption. It allows musicians to put on performances so special that they're worth the price of the ticket. To experience it, you have to be there.

As the Yondr website says:
We think smartphones have incredible utility, but not in every setting. In some situations, they have become a distraction and a crutch -- cutting people off from each other and their immediate surroundings. Yondr has a simple purpose: to show people how powerful a moment can be when we aren’t focused on documenting or broadcasting it.
In a Washington Post story about Yondr, 29-year-old Andrea Ostolaza complained about giving up access to her phone because she wanted to share the concert with friends who couldn't get in. And there's a quote from 24-year-old Gerard Little:
In this day and age, my phone is how I keep my memory.... If you don't want your music heard, then don't perform it.
That's the attitude you get from a generation that expects everything they consume -- from wi-fi access to Pandora music to YouTube video -- to be available for free, with no thought of how the content provider owns and profits from their work. Alas, your ticket to an event does not include the right to broadcast it to the world.

As for memories, I'm fond of remembering the days when I could go to a concert without having to have my view blocked by the person ahead of me holding up a iPhone (or worse, an iPad) so they can capture everything. Even if you never plan on uploading that video to share it, you're destroying the concert experience for me and everyone else behind you. I didn't pay my good money to be forced to watch these performers through your four-inch-wide screen.