"If you can't choose to stop drinking for a day, it's got that much of a hold on you, that's a sad thing. If you can't just put your phone down for an hour and experience life in a real way, that's sad"
Jack White has become known for banning mobile phones from his shows, but now he has said he’s never owned one and believes that society has an “addiction” to their devices.
The White Stripes, Raconteurs, Dead Weather and solo star has made headlines in recent years for not allowing phones to be used at his gigs to allow for a “100% human experience“. Now in a new interview, the Third Man records boss has explained his aversion to cellphones.
“For someone like me, who is one of the few who doesn’t own a cellphone, it is pretty funny to walk down the street and see everyone doing this,” White told Channel 4 News, miming himself looking into a phone in his hand.
“I’ve never owned one, so when I’m out there I’m an anomaly and I’m looking at everybody. To me, everybody looks silly. And then you’re like, ‘Whatever, it’s their lives’. Who knows? Maybe this is the way everything is going to be from now on. I have no idea and nobody really does.”
He continued: “Maybe it’ll turn to implants. Probably it’ll turn into a microchip behind our eyeball or whatever.”
Of his banning of phones at his live shows, White said that he has found a surprising amount of support for the scheme – but added that he finds it “sad” that people aren’t more naturally inclined to pay attention and live in the moment.
“I thought it was a big art project at first, to see if people would think it was funny or cool or just a new experience. Almost like an escape room or something like that, where like ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we had this arena show and everyone who showed up were told they couldn’t use their phones?’ We thought maybe at first people would be mad enough to demand their money back, and it might be that something interesting would happen.”
White went on: “To my surprise, and to everyone else’s surprise, everyone loved it. We’ve been doing it now for over a year so it’s been shocking how much people love it. It brings up these real big questions like, ‘So you need someone to tell you that you can’t use it to actually not use it?'”
“How sad, that’s pretty sad. Again, coming from someone who isn’t part of it, it’s easy for me to say because I don’t have that addiction.”
White went on to compare people’s dependence on their devices to alcoholism, and said that people leaning so heavily on social media highlighted more sinister traits of modern society.
“If you can’t choose to stop drinking for a day, it’s got that much of a hold on you, that’s a sad thing,” said White. “So the same thing with that, if you can’t just put that down for an hour and experience life in a real way, that’s sad. And it’s maybe even sadder that you had to be told to do it. That you didn’t naturally want to do it on your own.”
White concluded: “A good portion of it, 90%, is ‘Look what I’m doing that you’re not doing’. It’s this competition, voyeurism, jealousy – those are really shallow human characteristics. Come on, man. That’s not people being like, ‘I just watched the best film of my life’ or ‘I just heard the most beautiful poem’. It shows that if it’s not happening in the moment then it’s not worth it to them. A lot of that is really nonsense. It’s sad too! It’s funny man…”
This Friday sees White and The Raconteurs release their first new album in over a decade with ‘Help Us Stranger‘.