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Last night my husband Seth and I went to a concert in D.C., something we rarely do. Nine times out of ten, they’re his concerts, and I don’t really enjoy them regardless, and so, people doing things around me that ruin the experience don’t resonate, because I’m already not particularly enjoying the experience. But last night was a concert of mine, something we do every five years or so, and I actually cared about the experience.
We were sitting in the rafters until the concert started, and then stood up. Because I’m short, this was basically my view:
I kept my cell phone down outside of taking that quick ten-second video as a joke for Instagram because I don’t really see the point of taking video I’ll never rewatch, and also, well, that’s my view, so what’s the point? There were folks in front of me taking video, and through their screens, I could actually see the stage, which I found a strange appreciation for.
In the beginning of one of the songs during the encore, the (rather large, in width and height) man standing next to me yelled at some of the women who had been taking videos and selfies throughout the whole show. He was standing closer to them, and it looked like their videoing was blocking his view. He tapped on their shoulders and yelled at them to put their phones down; yelling to just watch the show with their eyes. It turned into a screaming match that bled into the rest of the encore, and soon, security was called over. What was a minor annoyance (for some folks) with the phones, turned into a standoff so tense that I told Seth we could just leave. I was tired of standing and this appeared to be the last song they would play anyway, and it was far from a favorite. But honestly, the whole section had become tense and not particularly enjoyable.
On the way home we talked about whose side we were on, and largely we both fell on the side of the guy. There’s really no need to take that much iPhone video of a show, and it’s also become a troubling phenomenon how few in our society are able to experience life without a phone in their hands (I fully admit I am part of the problem). I can see how his admonishments were intimidating for the women, who were standing a stair below him and were much smaller than he was. I generally appreciate when women stand up to men who intimidate women, though their choice to do it while the show was still going on was indicative of how little they cared about ruining the experience of the concert-goers around them.
So what would have been the right way to handle the situation? I tend to believe it could’ve been done better with the man asking the women to put their phones down, and out of his view, in a much more gentle and quiet way while the band was talking or playing a song off their new album (let’s be real, we all enjoyed those a bit less than the nostalgic 20-year old tunes we came for).
But what do you think? Did he have a right to say anything at all? Did he owe them any courtesy in how and when he did it?