Monday, April 15 2024

Bob Dylan, an international music icon, has championed the fight against the excessive use of cell phones, especially during live events, even going so far as to ban smartphones during his concerts.

“You don’t live to take pictures!” is the thesis of the singer, who believes it is important to know how to spend time offline, “without distractions.”

The intrusion of cell phones, in fact, would prevent one from “fully enjoying the show.”

According to the singer-songwriter, if one is busy filming and sharing everything with the smartphone, we end up not fully experiencing the present, along with the flesh-and-blood people around us.

Phones “seized”

Probably nostalgic for his early concerts, which took place in a still no-smartphone world, during his last performances, he made it impossible to capture his show because cell phones were “locked” at the entrance, only to be “unlocked” at the end. It was a drastic choice, which could be criticized, but which was, nevertheless, appreciated by many. 

To take part in the concert, spectators were required to place their smartphones in a case provided by the event organizers at the entrance. The device was then sealed and could be unlocked only upon request, but not in the arena of the performance: there were, in fact, areas set aside for the use of the cell phone for emergencies or necessities. To return to the concert, however, it was necessary to repeat the initial process, locking one’s device again.

Is it permissible to take away a spectator’s cell phone?

The artist was not alone in making such a strong decision; rather, he followed in the footsteps of Jack White and Madonna, who before him prevented fans from using their cell phones during concerts.

That Dylan was annoyed by the fashion for filming every moment of the show was clear as early as 2019, when, during a concert in Vienna, he interrupted Blowin’ in the wind and said indignantly to the audience, “Do we want to take pictures? Can we sing or do we have to pose?”

Clearly, the artist’s choice raises questions: is it permissible to make a strictly personal tool such as a cell phone unusable for the duration of an event?

It is true, however, that the potential viewer was warned before purchasing the ticket about the conditions for participating and could freely choose whether to accept them or not.

In fact, however, the ban did not prevent the singer-songwriter from selling out all the dates on his tour, including in Europe. Which, certainly, was to be expected, given his fame and audience appreciation.

Dylan: spokesman for many lesser artists annoyed by smartphone intrusion

Even less famous figures have in recent years shown hostility toward the use of devices, even in theaters. “Go ahead and answer, we’ll continue later,” said, for example, maestro Riccardo Chailly addressing a spectator at La Scala theater in Milan, during the evening dedicated to the great works of Verdi.

Many conductors or theater actors admit to feeling inhibited by the cameras constantly pointed at them. Many ask the audience to participate without this kind of interference.

However, we now turn to you readers: would you be able to make such a renunciation? Would you welcome it or would you experience it with impatience?

Give us your views; if you like, write them in the comments.


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