Maybe it’s time to put away the phone
No one at The Advertiser-Tribune seemed to know who Vampire Weekend was.
Let’s get that out of the way first.
So maybe it was a surprise to everyone that I sat out a Friday night of work to go to Cleveland to see the band play in the flats.
Ezra Koenig was awesome, and so was the band. The group — whose music style remains hard to define — played for 2 ½ hours.
The show was made when the band played its song M79.
It was the first Vampire Weekend song I ever heard, and the first one that made me take interest in the band.
It was also was a song that was included on the mix compact disc my brother and his wife distributed to the wedding party after their nuptials some 11 years ago.
So — against my better judgement — I took my smartphone out and recorded the first 10 seconds of the live version. I sent the video to my brother and his wife.
It was then that I noticed the woman in front of me. She also had her phone out, and was recording.
But she recorded the whole song.
I think she spent 80 % of the show watching through her viewfinder.
Watching so much of an expensive concert on a screen seemed to defeat the entire purpose of going.
She probably could have found a Vampire Weekend concert on YouTube.
It would have been much cheaper, and she wouldn’t have had to wait in her car for an hour and a half after the show before she could leave the parking lot downtown.
OK, I don’t know if she did the last part. But I know that I did.
The point is, our culture seems far more invested in the memory than the moment.
It happens in sports, too.
How many times, before a big moment in sports, do you see fans with their phones out, recording something they can post on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram.
It seems as though people value watching something later on a screen instead of watching something in the moment.
And I think that’s troubling.
Some of — most of — my greatest memories in sports come from going to games when I was a kid, before everyone had a cell phone.
I remember watching the Indians win a game on a Julio Franco walkoff home run in 1996. I remember Tom Browning winning a game for the eventual World Champion Reds in 1990.
And I remember my first Cavs game. It came in January of 1989 when the Cavs crushed the expansion Charlotte Hornets.
That last thing was more than 30 years ago.
But I remember how the Cavs had a cartoon of a giant tree that they flashed on the Richfield Coliseum videoboard every time Tree Rollins scored.
I remember seeing Ron Harper getting interviewed on the court after the game.
There was no smartphone, no iPad.
But I remember it like it was yesterday.
One of the greatest videos I have ever seen came from the 1954 World Series. When Willie Mays tracks down Vic Wertz’s deep fly ball in the Polo Grounds, they cut to a grown man in the stands.
He puts his hand on the top of his forehead and mouths “whoa.”
I imagine that the man — were he in that same situation at a game today– would look up from his cell phone and mouthed “I didn’t get a good shot of that. How can I post this on Facebook?”
And look, I’m as guilty as anyone of falling prey to new technology.
I’m always on my phone, always checking Twitter.
For what, I’m not sure. It’s become a compulsive habit.
As far as I can tell, Twitter’s primary focus has been to show us how much we don’t like each other. People are zinging total strangers at no more than 280 characters at a time. It can be funny, interesting.
But it can also be addictive. Sometimes I don’t even realize when I grab my phone to refresh my feed.
Well, no more. With no local sports for another six weeks, it’s the perfect time to pause the habit.
I deleted Facebook and Twitter off my phone. No posts for six weeks.
My work will likely still appear on The A-T’s Twitter feed, but it’s time to give “@Zachthewriter” a rest.
For six weeks, I’m putting the phone down.
It’s the summer and I start a vacation this week to Florida.
I hope to make some memories.
Without ignoring the moments.