I went to the Garth Brooks concert in Hamilton this past weekend. We had incredible seats, 12th row on the floor, which my friend managed to snag online amidst the five-sold-out-shows-in-forty-five-minutes madness back in January. I’ve seen Garth once before, but with floor seats this time around, the experience was even better. Growing up on country music, I knew every word to every song; the nostalgia, the energy of the crowd, and the showmanship combined for an unforgettable night.
There were many passionate fans in our area, and we were surrounded by cowboy hats and homemade signs. But I was especially intrigued with the lady directly in front of us. She was likely in her late 50s, there with her husband, and she watched the entire 2.5-hour performance through the lens of the camera on her phone. Now, I’ve been trying to give her the benefit of the doubt, as I’ve mulled this over in my mind for the past couple of days. I hope that she was recording each song for a dear friend whom was not at the concert. Perhaps she was being kind and generous and documenting her experience so that she could share it later, and perhaps my judgement is misplaced and unnecessary. But what about the hundreds of others who were doing the very same thing? Were they all being selfless and recording the show to simply share with others who couldn’t be there? Or were they all falling victim to the smartphone, record-every-moment game that we’ve become accustomed to? Now I will admit, I did record a 10-second sound bite to show my kids, and I did take about a dozen photos. I’m not against cameras, or phones, and certainly not against photos. But what I am against, what I do have a problem with, is living through the lens of a camera app rather than through the lens of life.
The woman I’m referring to held up her phone the entire concert. It was in video mode, and I saw her press “record” at the beginning of every song, and “stop” at the end of every song. Every. Song. And, in fact, our seats were so close to the stage, that Garth actually appeared smaller and further away through her camera than if she had just put down the phone and watched the show. So even if this person was planning to watch every song again at a later date, I’m having a hard time understanding how the potential enjoyment of that could be greater than watching each song being played live, front and centre, in the heart of the action.
Believe me, I’m as guilty as the next person of falling victim to the smartphone culture. I use my phone routinely and Social Media is a part of my daily life. And perhaps it’s just my recent unplugged March break that’s making me hypersensitive to this put-down-your-phone topic. However, I heard an interesting fact on the radio recently: Catherine McKenna, our Minister of Environment and Climate Change, turns off her phone from 5:30-8:00pm six nights per week, so that she can focus on her family. Brilliant. I’m going to follow suit.
And in the meantime, I hope the lady in front of me is thoroughly enjoying her replay of the Garth Brooks concert; perhaps this time she’ll notice that he waved at us.