Looking into the crowd at a concert, comedy show, or music festival, you’re sure to be faced with a sea of held-up smartphones and camera flashes. It’s something we all do - recording our favourite songs, uploading pictures of the artist to our Snapchat and Instagram stories, and sometimes even FaceTiming a friend so they don’t miss out on the best joke of the night.
Yet, it seems like for the people on stage, smartphones are more of a nuisance. Earlier this month, musician Jack White announced that his two shows in London would be “phone-free” in order for his fans to “enjoy a 100% human experience”. Fans of comedian Chris Rock have also been warned that his gigs will ban all phones and recording devices.
Should phones be banned from gigs?
Like everything, there are pros and cons to this (kind of extreme) measure. Many music and comedy fans will be happy to spend a couple of hours simply enjoying the show. In fact, they may even be relieved - phone screens and flashes are often distracting and can get in the way of a good experience.
The band Perfect Circle, who also banned phones from their concerts, say: “First of all, it's just rude. Putting up a phone in front of someone's face so they get to watch the show through it? [...] But the other point is, people talking about the show is so much more powerful. [...] People [should] express how they felt in the experience. It says something more.”
However, phone-free gigs aren’t for everyone. Many younger concert-goers believe they should be allowed to use their smartphones to record videos and share their experience on social media. (How many? Three quarters, according to research from ticket agency Skiddle.) For young people, social media is part of the experience, and they’re unhappy about it being taken away. The idea of a phone ban is also raising concerns among parents, who worry that they couldn’t be contacted by their children or babysitters in case of an emergency.
With so many conflicting opinions, the use of smartphones and recording devices at shows is set to remain a controversial subject. How do you feel about it? Tell us on Twitter!