Our (Necessary?) Reliance on Cell Phones
When you think of the vital things that are needed for going on tour as a band, what comes to mind? Guitar, bass, drums, amps, and van are probably the first things, right? Aside from the van, I’d argue that cellphones are more important than any equipment. In a pinch, equipment can be borrowed from other bands. We use cellphones on tour for so many things: alarms, capturing memories, communication, directions, distractions, etc…
I never had the pleasure to tour with a band in the pre-cellphone age but I imagine it would have been much more inconvenient. There would be no way to let the promoter know you were stuck in traffic and going to be two hours late to the show. There was no GPS to fall back on when you needed to guide the streets of Seattle. There was no access to the internet to look up ridiculous videos for everyone to enjoy.
Whether you like it or not, cellphones have become a vital tool for tour. When we’re in the middle of a 12 hour drive, our cellphones distract us from it so we can avoid killing each other. When someone gets “Holiday Road” by Lindsay Buckingham stuck in their head, we can instantly look it up on YouTube and play it. When we get to a city and want to find a good coffee shop, it is our savior.
While cellphones do a lot of good on tour, they can also be negative. When everyone is glued to their cellphones, keeping in touch with people on Facebook and text messages instead of spending time with each other, you begin to question ‘why are we on tour?’ There were some points on Lemuria tour that we had to instate a “no cellphones at dinner” rule because we all realized we collectively were spending too much time on our phones.
Overall, I think cellphones are a good and necessary thing in life and tour. They are an incredibly powerful tool, but as Uncle Ben Parker said “With great power comes great responsibility”. It’s important that we’re mindful of the extent of our cellphone usage. It would be a shame to miss the passing mountains of Colorado or giant cacti in Arizona because we were reading our Facebook feed. I know that FOMO (fear of missing out) is a real thing but, if I had to choose, I would always favor what’s happening in front of me and leave the social networks for later.
I hope this post doesn’t come off as me hating cellphones, because that is the farthest thing from the truth. My iPhone 7 rarely leaves my side. Also despite my camera being very portable, I tend to take a lot more photos on my phone. As Chase Jarvis says, “the best camera is the one that’s with you.” Like many people, my phone has become a vital part of my daily life.
I (sadly) probably spend a good 8 hours a day using my phone. Part of this post was reflecting on cellphones’ role on tour, but it also was introspective. I’m trying to be more mindful of my cellphone use when I am around other people and in social situations.