The sales pitch for cell phones that do a ton of other shit has always been about connection: Buy this phone and be connected to everything all the time, because you are a social animal and this will make you happy. That's partly true: For you, the user of the smartphone, it's vastly entertaining to be so connected. For everyone else, you are an irritating prick. Because the irony, of course, is that while you (the smartphone user) are incessantly synched to everything your perilously short attention span craves, you are simultaneously disconnected from whatever is happening in your immediate vicinity — and if you think you're a multi-tasker, you're not. Everybody can tell you're not listening.
I'm no exception to this rule. Personally, I got rid of my BlackBerry a couple of months ago because my girlfriend strongly suggested I get rid of it, and she's pregnant, which is to say she's fucking terrifying. And while I do occasionally miss it, I have a hard enough time paying attention to anything for more than four seconds without the perpetual ability to look at porn at any given moment. With great power comes great responsibility, Spider-Man's uncle once quipped, and I just couldn't handle that kind of access to cum-guzzling multi-racial sluts. Also, I don't really need to be notified every time Safeway e-mails me a coupon.
Apparently, my girlfriend is not the only person who is sick of people fiddling around with their smartphones: In a recent interview with some Canadian newspaper, Ratatat toyed with the idea of banning the use of smartphones on its tour, which came through Denver last week. "Lately I'm kind of in favor of banning [smartphones]," explained producer Evan Mast, whose music, coincidentally, kind of sounds like 311 got hired to do an iPhone commercial, "because whenever you go to shows there's so many people with their iPhones, and it's a bit distracting, I think, for people in the audience, and for us on stage, too."
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Mast's beef, by the way, has less to do with people checking their Twitter feeds and more to do with the practice of using iPhones and such to capture video of shows: "I understand the sentiment," he continued. "It's cool that people want to take a piece of the show home with them or show it to their friends or whatever. But I kind of feel like it would be more fun if they just enjoyed the show."
At some point in Wonder Boys, Michael Chabon offers the simile "lonely as a journalist," and as a journalist, I can relate: The process of documenting something (a concert, say) sets you apart from it; to observe in an anthropological sense precludes participation. But the difference between me and you, the guy taking video of a show, is that people pay me to do it because I am awesome. What do you get? Some record of the experience, perhaps, but at the cost of the experience itself.
Plus, everybody thinks you're a dick.