Concerts have always been a source of great joy for me, however recently my concert experiences have been brought down by the omnipresence of phones. It seems everyone around me is on there phone trying to post about how cool it is that they are there without actually enjoying being there. In response to this many singers and bands are attempting to make their concerts cell phone free zones, getting behind this movement are artists such as Alicia Keys, Bob Dylan, HIM, HER, and Beyonce. Upon researching this I have found that there are many different opinions and studies that advocate for both sides. A study conducted by physiological scientist from Yale and the University of Southern California found that taking pictures at concerts may actually enhance a viewers satisfaction with the event. The conclusion of the study was that when you are taking pictures you are more engaged and hence more satisfied which brings people more joy from the experience. However even this study put a disclaimer, taking pictures helped people come out of the experience with more joy so long as “the photo-taking does not become an impediment on the event.” Although the opinions of artists and experts, specifically from the Rolling Stone and Caliber Magazine, tend to be on the other side of the argument. As Greil Marcus, music journalist, scholar, and author of the acclaimed “Mystery Train: Images of America in Rock ‘n’ Roll Music,” puts it,  “When you’re holding up your cell phone and you’re recording a video of a performance, you are yourself representing it rather than experiencing it directly. You’re putting distance between yourself–emotional, physical, technological–and the performance.”He argues that there is a level of excitement you get at a concert that is caused by the unpredictability of it all, one never knows what is going to come next. When you are holding up a phone you are no longer experiencing this directly, you are experiencing it through your phone which takes away from the experience.

Sources Used: How Taking Photos Increases Enjoyment of Experiences Cell Phones At Concerts: Ruining the Concert Experience  Why a Phone-Free Concert Experience Is Around the Corner

How Taking Photos Increases Enjoyment of Experiences

Cell Phones At Concerts: Ruining the Concert Experience 

Why a Phone-Free Concert Experience Is Around the Corner

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CC BY-SA 4.0 Why We Should Use Our Phones At Concerts by Wesley is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.

9 Comments
  1. Brendon 2 months ago

    Wesley, I have recently been to a concert as well and I agree that there are times where it seems as if every person and their grandma has their phone out. It’s somewhat crazy, but I admit I had my phone out for a couple songs. For most of the show I wanted to enjoy it and take it all in, but there were some moments I wanted to be able to look back on in the future and enjoy. I’d agree that there are both negatives and positives to the amount of cell phone use at concerts and that people need to find a balance. What do you personally think that balance is?

  2. Laya 2 months ago

    Hi Wesley,
    I actually never really thought about how that could affect not only us but the performer and also everyone around us. I agree that when you pay money to go see a concert, you should live in the moment and experience it firsthand. I, however, understand why someone would want to take a video or picture at a concert in attempt to keep the memories forever. It is necessary that we learn to keep extra phone use at a public event like a concert to a minimum, especially when it could distract others. Really interesting piece, glad I read this!

  3. Ellie 2 months ago

    Wesley, you got me thinking about all the past concerts I’ve been to that I’ve used my phone at. I think it should be personal freedom on whether to use your phones at concerts. I agree with the notion that posting on social media about your favorite artists gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-care. However, it can get distracting to have a herd of phones block your view. Let’s talk more about this next time!

  4. Abbey 2 months ago

    I totally agree, having phones out at a concert can make the experience not as great because you become more concerned with who is going to see the video/pictures and know the you are there versus actually experiencing and engaging in the performance that you paid to see. But at the same time, just like Stella (above said), I too feel like its something I want to keep forever and get to relive over and over by watching the videos I took

  5. Ellie Han 2 months ago

    Wesley, you got me thinking about all the past concerts I’ve been to that I’ve used my phone at. I think it should be personal freedom on whether to use your phones at concerts. I agree with the notion that posting on social media about your favorite artists gives you a sense of accomplishment and self-care. However, it can get distracting to have a herd of phones block your view. Let’s talk more about this next time!

  6. Mashlin 2 months ago

    I agree. Concerts are something that people feel the need to record but it is a distraction because we are more focused on recording than being they’re in the actual moment but people would like to always have a memory to re-watch the concert.

  7. Alicia 2 months ago

    I agree, using your phone at an event like a concert is distracting and it does distance the person from the actual experience. Concerts are extremely fun and, while you want to capture the experience in a video to show others or to have it as a memory you can experience forever, it doesn’t give the same effect. You can’t capture the adrenaline rush you have while watching your favorite artist on stage in a video, you can’t capture anything other than the surface appearance in a video. However, even though I say this I still video concerts that I go to because I want to be able to watch the performance over and over again. I think that this is a very complicated topic.

  8. Maggie 2 months ago

    My husband and I talk about this every time we go to a concert! I find it sad that people pay money to actually see the performer live and spend most of their time viewing the performer through their phone. I do understand our tendency to want to capture moments, but I think as a society, we must do a better job being present and appreciative of the present.

  9. Stella 2 months ago

    I agree, I think phones are distracting and can ruin the moment at concerts – especially when someone is not only filming, but doing other things like texting and perusing Snapchat. Why go to a concert if you’re not going to enjoy the moment? But at the same time, I often feel the need to take a video to keep the moment forever.

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