Searching for Sugar Man

This past Sunday Sixto Rodriguez (Searching for Sugar Man) performed an impromptu pop-up gig in my hometown.

I only heard about it from a friend an hour or so before the show. I later heard the gig had been organised between locals on Facebook.

From where I stood, at the back of the small hall, I saw more than 500 people filling it, overflowing onto the porch and into the hallway behind me.

Precisely at 12pm a thundering applause erupted as Rodriguez walked onto the stage.

A legion of smartphones rose in anticipation…

He took his seat, strummed his guitar once or twice and started singing his first song without much fanfare from his side.

While I enjoyed his music and songs I found it very interesting to watch my fellow music lovers.

From the word “go” young and old were constantly taking photos, videos and selfies — eagerly sending it to those not there via WhatsApp, Facebook and Twitter. They were texting back-and-forth, capturing another shot, sending the “latest” update. It seemed some people were so busy on their smartphones that they never got around to enjoying what was going on in the front.

I thought about how technology has changed our lives but left it at that.

Then this morning adii wrote how did we do this before? He talks about running and technology and says “But what actually happened though is that I mostly just went for a run. Without tech. Without self-quantifying. Just running.”

How did we enjoy live events before technology? Were we actually there, present and in the moment? Did we look and listen and take in the music, the performance, the environment and our fellow concert-goers? Do we vividly remember these events? Was the experience maybe more intense?

These days, it seems, we were only ever “present” or “in the moment” if the evidence had been uploaded to our Facebook walls and our memories and experiences only exist if liked by someone on social media.

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