Now that smartphones have overwhelmed the concert experience to become part of life, we must strive to reach an understanding regarding etiquette and rules of engagement.
As it stands, anarchy reigns. Frustrated technophobes grumble at wired enthusiasts during many shows, and with good reason. Deciding to document the event not only affects the documentarian but also the performer and other fans. Eager to offer a solution, we’ve carved onto (imaginary) tablets a reasonable set of commandments, with the aid of “divine” guidance.
The 10 Commandments of Smartphone Usage at Concerts
1. Prior to a performance, thou shalt reduce the brightness on thy phone screen to the lowest setting before tweeting, texting, recording or playing “Temple Run.”
2. Honor thy performer and venue. If they request thou bear witness without recording, thou shalt not only abide but also enforce this dictate on those who would disobey.
3. Thou shalt not invade the airspace of surrounding people. As is the law, airspace is vertical, not diagonal. Bumping the head of the person in front with thy forearm, for example, is forbidden and punishable by a pointed glare or, in extreme cases, an “accidental” beer spill.
4. Before deciding to shoot video or a photo, thou shalt survey the scene to note others already doing the same. Inevitably, those videos will land on the celestial bodies known as YouTube, Facebook and Instagram, available to thou and everyone else on Earth.
5. Those who too frequently experience the transcendence that is live music by gazing through a little screen while reality stands immediately before them may be banished to purgatory, where they shall be forced to record for all eternity the live performances of Justin Bieber and/or the Wiggles.
6. Honor thy inner voice that asks, “Will this abhorrent, low-resolution clip contribute to the betterment of the world? Will it honor the spirit of creation?” Most important: “Will I ever look at this video again?” Let thy answer be thy guide.
7. Those who employ their smartphone more than five times during a performance waste not only space but also energy, and shall be banished from all post-performance discussions or assessments of the experience. (Unless thou art a music critic taking notes.)
8. Thou shalt not talk on the phone during a performance, unless at the bar or in the bathroom. Take thy foul habit elsewhere.
9. Those who insist on recording entire performances shall inform the person behind him in advance, and allow this person the opportunity to switch seats. This process shall be repeated until an amenable (and taller) soul — or the back of the venue — is found.
10. Before an event, recite this truism: “Life is beautiful, and music performance is a pure embodiment of this.” Honor its spirit through mindful, uninterrupted attention.