Sunday, March 20, 2011

Humans in Groups: not good

I went to a concert last night.  I do this regularly.  My wife plays in a symphony, you see, so I find myself in concert halls with several hundred - perhaps a couple thousand, I dunno - total strangers, trying to listen to music played by humans without amplification.  Not fun.

Last night was cough night.  The music would get quiet and an entirely different symphony of coughing would appear.  Why?  Maybe it's flu season.  Maybe the audience doesn't care.  They're mostly old enough that they might not even be capable of hearing each other cough.  Whatever, I found it annoying.

I also hate going to movies in theaters.  Even a small audience is distracting.  Someone will suddenly have an unimaginably difficult time opening some candy wrapper at exactly the wrong moment, for example.  And several times young, white, male individuals between the ages of 15 and 25 have been extremely disruptive - read "stupid" - at movies I have been at, even when the total audience numbered less than 20.

I am fast becoming a hermit where shared experiences are the goal.  As if that sentence made any sense.  If a bunch of people watch the same DVD separately, have they had a shared experience?  Maybe, but they definitely haven't been disturbed by the rest of the people in the theater (or whatever) while trying to enjoy it.

Recently I went to a Roger Waters concert, where he performed The Wall live.  It was an amazing show, with video to die for, sound to drown out everything, and so on.  It was, in fact, the best concert I have ever been to.  But guess what... I didn't get to lose myself in the show.  People around us were doing all kinds of distracting (and stupid) things, and the fact that the music was so loud I needed earplugs didn't mean I couldn't hear the idiots around me.

We've lost something, somewhere.  The idea that civility meant not bugging your neighbor seems to be gone.  And not even the oldest among us (who still get out and about, anyway) understand that.

Of course I probably bug those around me at concerts too.  I can't sit that still for that long - my limbs fall asleep - and I wind up having to shift around a bit.  I apologize to those who have had to sit near me.  At least I try to be quiet, though.

Anyway, there isn't anything to be done about this.  It's a shame, though.  If you'd only sit down, shut up, and pay attention you might learn something, or at least enjoy the show.  But that'll never happen.


  1. This may be a result of our technology that allows us to experience music, movies, football games in isolated situations. We no longer have the ability to tolerate companions.

    Just as daily showers have eliminated the stink of mankind, the HDTV and High Fidelity Audio systems eliminate the distraction of others.

    Live is not better than streamed.

  2. And yet much of what we like to listen to by ourselves is live performances!

  3. I suspect the live performances you like, Merikay, are recorded in such a way that you don't hear the audience all that much. That would help. :)

    In any case I have to agree, live is not better than streamed. Or recorded. (You cannot stream anything to my house given my ISP, but that is an entirely different issue.)


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