Before most concerts start, there is an exciting buzz in the air. The recorded music played before the show starts lowers and the lights turn off.
Then, the phones come out.
People raise their arms, usually holding their phones horizontally to get the whole stage in their shot, and start recording.
The talent comes on the stage, only to see hundreds of phones staring back at them. I sometimes have to watch the concert through the person’s screen in front of me.
Taylor York, the guitarist of the band, Paramore, tweeted while he was on tour that he understands that people want to record concerts for memories, but it “kills him” to see people record an entire show on their phone.
I get it – I really do – but what kills me is when I go on Snapchat and see someone’s story, which consists of various concert clips and photos, which can sometimes collectively be up to 10 minutes long.
Every time I see those long Snapchat stories, I think, “Wow, that person spent all that time and money to not truly experience the concert.”
Concerts are meant to be an experience where you can see an artist or band preform live. You are encouraged to dance and sing and experience the music with the artist. That’s not the case when you record the whole show on your phone, however.
When you use your phone, all you think about is whether you’re getting a good video and which social media platform to post it on. This puts the real concert experience on pause.
In 2013, a study called “The Influence of Taking Photos on Memory for a Museum Tour” by Linda A. Henkel discovered a photo-taking-impairment effect, which found that subjects remembered fewer objects and detail about the scenes they photographed than if they had only observed the scene.
I once recorded most of the concerts I attended when I had my first smart phone.
One dropped phone later, I lost all of those concert photos and videos. That’s when I realized that they weren’t important. I never needed those pictures or videos to remember the concert experience. They were only proof that I was there.
Thinking back, I should have just put my phone away for the show because the best memories occur when you actually take part in the musical experience.
One of the best moments I experienced at a concert is when I sang along to “Caught Myself” by Paramore. I sang at the top of my lungs, I felt the emotion in the lyrics and I let the melody move my body.
I don’t need photos or videos to remember that.
Sarah Yenesel is a junior journalism major from Morristown, N.J. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.