Opinion: Shut up Apple, I'll use my iPhone at gigs if I want to

A photograph of someone holding a phone up at a gig
(Image: © Getty Images)

We already know a few things about Apple, namely that their products are face-meltingly expensive, and they’re very good at unintentionally pissing people off. A couple of months ago, Apple Music was lambasted by angry users who said it had deleted their music files and now, the company has figured out a new way to rouse the ire of music fans: by landing a patent for technology that forcibly stops them filming or taking pictures on their iPhones at gigs. George Orwell, are you hearing this?

The new technology uses infrared sensors that temporarily disable the camera on any iPhones in the vicinity, and will no doubt have Corey “Get Off Your Phone and Pay Attention” Taylor and the rest of the gadget-hating contingent of musicians rubbing their hands with glee. These firm believers of the old “if you’re on your phone, you’re missing out on real life” adage are probably already figuring out how to add these new, Big Brother-esque gadgets to their rider, cackling at all the photo opportunities that’ll never see the light of Instagram. Guns N’ Roses and Glassjaw even confiscated phones from fans at their shows earlier this year, such is their opposition to someone enjoying the gig enough to want to take a photo.

If you think this is a reasonable thing for artists to do, then you, like them, probably just don’t get it. You didn’t grow up in an era where everything from your crappy attempt at baking cupcakes to the sunburn you got on your kneecaps in Marbella qualified as a moment worth sharing online. In fact, that very sentence is probably making you bellow something about the youth of today and how they should stop texting. But let’s just stop and think about this for a minute: how much, really, does someone being on their phone at a gig affect the artist or the audience member? Alright, flash photography can be a bit annoying, I’ll give you that. But you know how that can be solved? By a sign saying ‘no flash photography’. A handwritten one should do the trick if you’re short on time and printer ink. See, there really is no need to plonk a robot from the future in the corner of the venue. We saw how dangerous it was to let technology override human decisions in 2001: A Space Odyssey. What’s Apple’s new machine’s slogan going to be? “Take photos? I’m sorry, Dave, I’m afraid you can’t do that”.

Not only is it downright insulting to put conditions on how people are allowed to enjoy a show, it’s also hugely creepy and invasive. If this technology catches on, gigs won’t be the only place where a global conglomerate can reach inside your phone and turn off certain functions at will. Is that really the kind of world we want to be living in? We thought it was bad when David Cameron wanted access to everyone’s WhatsApp messages and this new tech is from exactly the same school of thought. I said it a few sentences ago, and I’ll say it again: if you’re a musician pompous enough to take issue with the fact that some people might be enjoying the show so much they want mementos to look at at a later date, put some bloody signs up asking them not to. If you’re a gig-goer who doesn’t like phones at gigs? Well, be my guest, and leave yours at home. The rest of us will choose when and where we want to take pictures of stuff, thank you very much.

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