Thursday, November 18, 2010

Your Instant Social Media Gratification Can Wait

The other evening the HLDW* and I attended the Dave Matthews Band concert at Philips Arena in Atlanta. The wife is a big fan and we try to see the show whenever they are in town. Anyway, this isn't a review of the show, rather, it is about something I noticed while watching the crowd. Are we, as a society, completely incapable of just sitting and enjoying something without having to crank out immediate Facebook/Twitter updates every 30 seconds?

Hell, I was guilty of posting a Facebook update after we took our seats, prior to the show starting. Why the hell was it so important for me do so? Don't get me wrong, I'm very aware that I skew very far to the right on the bell curve of narcissism and understand that the world is curious as to how I spend my every waking moment (it goes with action hero fame and I bear the burden as only I can). But I still did it - and I'm not one for constantly updating. The HLDW was in a social media frenzy, of course, but she has 35 bazillion friends and that is expected by her peers.

I mentioned my observation/question to the HLDW and she mumbled a "mmhmm - hang on while I finish this post" and went back to her iPhone. I looked around and there were dozens of people clicking away. So, secure in my social media isolation as I vowed that my phone would not come out of my pocket until the concert was over, I continued to observe my fellow concert goers. People all around me clicking away on their phones or showing their pithy entries to the people next to them or asking to see their friends phones. I wanted to shout at the little bastards, "Put the fucking phones away and get busy doing what you are supposed to be doing at a concert; drinking too much, dancing like an idiot, getting the girls drunk, playing grab-ass when the lights go down, smoking some dope (Oh, yeah, can't do that anymore, thank you very fucking much you second hand smoke Nazis). JUST STOP AND BE IN THE MOMENT.

Oh, sure, all that stuff was kind of happening. Hell, I drank a double gin and tonic and pinched the HLDW once or twice myself. And, to be fair, there was a lot of youthful binge drinking exuberance and hippie white guy/gal dancing (we were at Dave Matthews) but in almost all cases the revelry would generally come to a stop so that they could UPDATE THEIR FACEBOOK FEED.

And yet, in spite of all of the scorn I was mentally heaping on the losers around me, I was torn. The uber-geek part of me told me to stop being such an old asshole and appreciate the coolness of being able to connect anytime, anywhere and being able to share experiences. I mean, I dread the day that the words "back in my day" comes out of my mouth.

What do you think? Have we lost something because of the intrusion of the "outside" into the shared experience of the event? Do we lose some of the experience when we shift focus to broadcast our impressions of the event rather than staying focused on the event itself?

In the interest of complete disclosure, my phone did not stay in my pocket for the rest of the night. It came out when the band left the stage for the first time and when, back in my day, we would have pulled out our much abused bic lighters to call for the encore. Instead, I held my phone high and activated the "Flick a Bic Concert Lighter" app that I downloaded earlier in the day.

It completely rocked.

Now I need to update Facebook and Twitter that there is a new Rhino post.

It is good to be the introspective Rhino.


  1. Why the hell was it so important for me do so?

    It isn't, but you enjoy it. Why not? Who was injured or killed by doing so? Sounds me like you're still trying to figure out the point of it all. There is no point. Why do you make quirky, funny, smart, clever, stupid, insightful, retarded, and philosophical comments towards people IRL?. Coz you can. Where's the problem with doing it with friends that flash in and out of your consciousness at your convenience?.

    DAMMIT, forgot to link my blog post on Twitter...

    Screw it, I'll link yours while I'm there...

  2. Sometimes I think it would be nice if there was someone who went through our society with a tin bucket and a ballpeen hammer randomly snatching phones from the hands of the inattentive and smashing them to bits.

    I see my students texting while I'm teaching. Nine times out of ten such students normally wash out of the course.

    So I do nothing.

    On the Outer Marches

  3. Anonymous7:07 PM

    Well look what the cat dragged in!

    Nice of you to take the time to drop a post.

    Dave matthews Band eh? Thats a blast form the past. Glad you had a good time though you old fart!

  4. I'm with Murph. I'm seeing a generation of contact-dependent fartknockers who can't even change a freakin' flat tyre because they've always got the capacity to phone for help. I'm seeing people who don't have the decency to show up on time because they figure they can just announce that they'll be late on Facebook, and that'll square everything.

    Fuck. That. Shit.

    Electronically mediated communication and contact is not the same as respect, politeness, and personal contact. And if you can't even remember how to jumpstart a car without phoning your mechanic, you are pathetically inadequate, and you should get the fuck off the road until you acquire some basic competences.

    I look forward to the first time a Master of YouTube Kung Fu decides to pick a fight with me. I mean - you can learn anything online, right?

    Yep. The cyberverse. Who's got time for a real life, anyway? Fuck that: just hire someone from Korea to have that life for you!

  5. I do some obscure stuff. Stuff where maybe fifty other people do it in each English speaking city over a million people. I love the ability to share with the people who share my interests. However, I'll likely get a concert review in person with the concert goer next time we have a beer together.

    Rhino, when are you in Canberra next? :)


Comments are welcome. However, being an ass may result in a horrible, albeit accidental, goring.