Last Friday I went with some friends to see Maroon 5 perform at the LA Forum. The band played to a packed house, and it was frenetic, lively and LOUD! The band played all of its hits [My favorite Maroon 5 song is “Maps“] and some new songs, going non stop for over an hour before leaving the stage to the cheers of the crowd. We all knew they’d be back for an encore, and after a few minutes out they came. They played a few more songs, one after another, and then the band’s leader, Adam Levine, really surprised me.
He had made his way to the end of a long runway that extended from the center of the stage out into the middle of the audience seated on the floor of the arena, and he stopped the music to talk to the audience. I know I won’t quote this perfectly, but what he said, in effect, was this:
“Concerts used to be places where the performers and the crowd shared a special, communal experience. Everyone stood, and swayed and danced, and sang along. But look at what’s going on here tonight. Thousands of people holding up cell phones, taking videos of the concert, rather than really feeling and living the concert. So, can you really be with me now, for two minutes. Can you all put your cell phones away, and just be here, tonight, with me, and with the band, and with each other, and share this song. For two minutes.”
I thought it was great that he did that. Now, of course, not everyone put their phones down. Mr. Levine even pointed out a few people who had “paid too much for their front row seats to spoil things by jamming phone on selfie sticks out at the performers.” But the point he was making was clear, at least to me.
To really experience life, you have to surrender to your experiences. You have to get into the middle of them, and, if the situation calls for it, sing and dance and wave your hands. How can we truly enjoy life when we are so busy trying to record life that we forget that we are supposed to be living life? We are so busy trying to show other people where we are, that we aren’t really there as participants, but like distant observers. Why do so many of us make the foolish choice to experience what could be some great moments in our lives through the tiny lenses and small screens of a smartphone instead of opening our senses, taking in the sights, sounds, smells, feels and tastes of the world around us?
Maybe it’s time to put the smartphones down and smell the roses. Even if it is only for two minutes.