IMAGE: Yondr

Are smartphone-free zones a good idea?

A growing number of musicians and event organizers of various types are begin to take measures to create smartphone-free zones in a bid to prevent audiences recording, taking pictures or distracting others.

Artists like Alicia Keys have begin to use companies like Yondr, which makes a neoprene sleeve to hold smartphones that can be closed with a similar to antitheft tags on clothes: people can keep their handset with them, but cannot use it to take pictures, videos or send messages. Anybody who needs to use their phone must leave the smartphone-free zone, passing a device that unlocks the bag, and then relock it when they return to the event area.

The covers cost about two dollars a day to rent, and are increasingly being used by artists who sometimes interrupt their concerts or performances to ask people to put down their smartphones and enjoy the moment.

That said, there are performers who encourage their fans to share the moment on the social networks, hoping to generate a feeling of “I wish I was there.”

In the case of comedians, obviously, many are unhappy that their material is being seen and heard by people outside the audience: in reality, it’s an old problem, and the only solution is to come up with new material.

But … is recording an event really such a big deal? Is it so hard to understand that for some people, the way to enjoy a live event is free of the worry that they are missing the opportunity to re-live the moment thanks to some pictures or video taken of him?

The idea that enter a concert or performance you have to allow your phone to be locked away and then submit to a mandatory pat-down just in case you have another hidden on your person is, in my opinion deeply invasive. Sorry, but if to enter a show I have to do without my smartphone, I think I’d rather not bother.

In the smartphone era, trying to prevent people from using it to do the many things it is capable of is nigh impossible. For some people live performances are a scarce good and everything possible must be done to prevent those who have not paid the price of admission to enjoy, even if only partially, the show.

For others, allowing part of their performances to be broadcast on the social networks is basically free marketing.

How would you feel about having your smartphone locked down in this way as a prerequisite to seeing your favorite artist perform?

(En español, aquí)