COLUMN: Jack White forced me to unplug and enjoy the moment
Last Thursday, I checked off another thing from my bucket list — I saw Jack White of The White Stripes perform at Little Caesars Arena.
I grew up listening to The White Stripes. I burned a hole through their “White Blood Cells” album in my Hello Kitty CD player and once I graduated to an MP3 player, “Get Behind Me Satan” and “Elephant” were one of the first albums I threw on there. Living only 20 or so minutes outside the Detroit area, I’ve driven past the actual Hotel Yorba and made a point to visit Third Man Records as soon as I got my first turntable in middle school.
When my boyfriend (a fellow White Stripes aficionado) saw Jack was coming to Detroit on his “Boarding House Reach” tour, he didn’t even ask if I was free that night — he just bought the tickets.
The point is, I love The White Stripes.
When I found out Jack’s concert was a “no phones” venue, I was a bit disheartened. What if something cool happened and I wanted to save it to show people later? If he played one of my favorite songs, how was I supposed to get video of it to watch later?
In a more adult mindset — what if someone needed me and they couldn’t get a hold of me, for work or otherwise? Working in news, you train yourself to think of being on the clock at all times. Like we learned with the March 2 shooting, anything can happen at any time and you have to be ready.
Without a phone, how could I be ready?
My boyfriend convinced me to leave our phones in the car, rather than have to bring it in and lock them up. Staff in the venue were handing out these clunky Velcro sealed, lime green and grey pouches that latched with a plastic lock at the top. The only way they would open would be if, at the end of the show, security waved a wand over the plastic and the latch popped.
He said it would be hell to keep those in our pockets for the show, and he was probably right, so we left our stuff.
I was away from my phone for a solid four hours and a handful of minutes.
At the risk of sounding like some cantankerous Baby Boomer, hellbent on proving technology is the true evil of the world...it was actually pretty awesome.
Rather than play around and take videos on our phones, like we usually do prior to shows, my boyfriend and I people-watched. We made fun of the opening bands, who seemed both overly enthusiastic and completely dead on stage at the same time. We talked with other concert-goers and made friends for the night.
Instead of being insular, we expanded our concert experience to the people and things around us.
When the show started, I was more in tune with what was going on onstage. I noticed more of the background sets being broadcast on the enormous screens behind White and what musicians behind him were doing. (My only regret was not getting video of White bringing his mother, a woman who might have been literally half of his 6-feet-2-inch height, up onstage to dance with him during a polka rendition of “Hotel Yorba.”)
But more than that, I wasn’t constantly checking my phone for notifications on things. I was untethered. I didn’t care in that moment about group projects, family drama or work updates.
I didn’t care — and it was nice not to.
When I got back to the car, the world hadn’t ended. There were a few missed calls, but no fires I couldn’t put out. There were unanswered texts and unseen notifications, but it wasn’t anything world-ending.
And that was OK.
In the grand scheme of things, your presence isn’t so important that you can’t go AWOL for a few hours and be you.
Try it. Unplug yourself. Go outside. Do nothing. Do something. The weather’s getting nicer, go lay in the sun and read a book or take a nap.
You, and your mind, deserve it.