Opinion | To whoever needs to hear this: Get off your phone

Jasmin Sani
Managing Editor

Get off your phone. Please.

Imagine this: You set a reminder for a concert presale. You woke up two hours early because you couldn’t sleep and continued to smash the “refresh” button on the Ticketmaster page. You entered the queue that notified you the following: “Due to high demand, you may experience an extended wait time.” Your heart pounded and perspiration gathered on your brow as you took note that there are still more than 2,000 people in front of you, getting access to the same tickets you’ve yearned for since you first heard your most-treasured artist sing.

And then – you get the tickets.

Rejoice! You now spend hours watching the artist speak in interviews. You make a Spotify playlist outlining every song the artist is scheduled to perform at your local show. You plan the outfit, the makeup, the accessories, even the perfume that you’ll spray before you set out to stand in line outside the venue for over 10 hours.

And then – instead of actually watching the performer – you’re on your phone for the whole duration of the concert.

You’re not texting, you’re not scrolling through Instagram, you’re not retweeting some trending post on Twitter. You’re recording the entire concert. A blatant disregard for those around you, you throw your right and left hands in the sky – your phone clenched in between the tips of your now-red fingers – in hopes that those three additional inches of extension will make your night the most memorable one in your life.

It won’t. And quite frankly, the thought it even could is ridiculous.

I’m not just saying this from a third-party, you’re-blocking-my-view perspective. I’m saying this as a music-enthusiast who has gone through the same emotions you have, the same fear that this night – this concert, this once-in-a-lifetime experience – won’t forever be ingrained in your memory. But that’s not what memories are for.

Memories are meant to provide a passage into reflecting on a good time. The concrete isn’t what we connect to when we look back. It’s the feelings, the associations we tie to events, the smells and tastes that make memories all the more nostalgic. Not shaky camera footage of an artist onstage.

You’re not looking at the real-life human being in front of you. You’re looking at a pixelated version of them through a 6.1-inch display. It doesn’t matter that your new iPhone 11 shoots in 4k; that image on your screen is not real. But your physical body in this space is real. The screams and chants that escape from your vocal chords are real. The swaying of the crowd and the bass that oscillates through every muscle in your body are real.

Now pulling out your camera to snap some pictures or film some concert highlights is all fair game. But don’t ruin it for yourself by having your phone out for 80 percent of the night, favoring a low-quality video that you can instead easily find on YouTube in a 30-second search.

As every middle school teacher once told me, “Today is a gift. That’s why we call it the present.” So please: Get off your phone and embrace the moment.