Manchester City recently announced it’ll be the first Premier League team to offer “high-density” Wi-Fi – Wi-Fi that works in an area with tons of people in the same place (47,000 in this case). According to the club’s website, the aim is to make it the “most technologically fan-friendly stadium” and, according to CCO Tom Glick, “enhance our supporters’ experience.”
But does it enhance a punter’s experience if they can tweet, text, Facebook, instagram, browse, take photos, snapchat, Vine, video and whatsapp during a game? I’m not so sure – and surely it’s only a matter of time before free Wi-Fi is introduced to gig venues.
I spent a ridiculous amount of time Vining the recent Pixies gig at the Roundhouse earlier this month, and I hated myself for it. They’re one of my favourite bands – why wasn’t I watching ‘Caribou’ instead of broadcasting that I was watching it? Increasingly I resent the self-imposed impulse to relay online the stuff I do – as if anyone actually cares. Hands up – and I know this sounds super lame – but if something cool or amazing happens on stage my first thought is to tweet it and then think of how I can put it in a clever or witty way, instead of just contemplating it and enjoying the moment. Often it’s like an outer body experience: I feel myself doing it automatically and then have to kick myself back into control. Studies suggest that social media is one of the ‘rewards’ alongside cocaine and chocolate that increases dopamine levels in the brain, and makes us feel better. This Harvard report about self-disclosure increasing activation in the brain’s dopamine system is interesting. Social media is a brilliant tool in some ways but I’m not completely comfortable with the thought it’s changing my brain chemistry and Tweeting or Instagramming what’s happening is so much a part of my thought process.
That’s my experience, I don’t know if you’ve had similar. But even if you’re not a social media addict, this decision from Man City could well open the gates for a situation that’ll completely change live music. For a start, we’d see an increase of photos taken and videos shot. It’s a long time since the closest thing to interacting with the outside world at a show was calling my mum when her favourite Muse song came on and leaving a 20 second recording.
Anyway, we want to know what you think. Will it enhance your experience to be more plugged in? Or would you rather concentrate on the present and enjoy the show? Do you appreciate the fans who bootleg and post videos on YouTube of gigs that you can’t be at? Or do you think that’s totally unfair on those who’ve bought tickets? If you’re in a band, would it piss you off? Vote in the poll below.