I wonder what our music would be like today had smartphones existed sixty years ago.
Sixty years ago today (July 6, 1957), a 13-year-old kid showed up at a church function. It was a Saturday community event complete with a brass band and a dog show. But the kid also saw a band of older teenagers who had been invited to play. In spite of the leader’s inability to remember the words or even play well, the band captured his attention.
After playing, this makeshift band took a break inside the church auditorium. A guy came in with the 13-year-old and made some introductions. The younger teenager then pulled out his own guitar, played a few songs popular at the time, and a friendship was formed.
Two weeks later, John Lennon invited the 13-year-old Paul McCartney to join his band, the Quarry Men.
No matter what you think of their lifestyle, politics, and religious beliefs, the Beatles wrote some great songs. Their approach to both songwriting and recording redefined rock and roll in the 60s, and their influence is still felt today. (My wife and I disagree on whether their early music was better than their later music, but I still love her.)
I think if a church had a community event this weekend, two teenagers like Paul and John would never meet because at least one of them would have his head buried in his phone.
We come to intersections all day. Not the driving kind, but intersections where we encounter other people. It may be momentary, but we have an opportunity to engage with another human being. Many of these encounters have the potential of being a joyous moment in our lives, an encouragement for the other person, or—who know—maybe the start of a lifelong relationship that rivals the Beatles. But we wouldn’t know because we’re looking at our phones instead.
Last week was the tenth anniversary of the iPhone, and CNN published an online article about how the iPhone has made our lives worse. From my own experience, I can’t disagree with their seven reasons. Two of them particularly stuck out to me:
1. We are ignoring one another. I see this in restaurants every time we eat out. (And restaurant fare is the main food group in our family diet.) Couples, groups of friends, and even whole families are sitting in each others’ presence with their heads bent down in the smartphone stare. We’re so engrossed in the latest videos and memes, counting Likes on our Facebook page, or playing games that we’re not talking to each other. I mean having a genuine conversation.
2. Smartphones are ruining our relationships. We’ve relegated conversation to sending texts with stupid little emojis. True feelings and expressions come up short. Texting is not a real conversation, and it is certainly nothing deep. We’re slowly losing our ability to talk with other people in a meaningful way.
People with a higher proportion of online interactions are lonelier than people with a higher proportion of face-to-face conversations. [Source]
Anticipate the intersections you’ll have with people today. Put the phone down and actually carry on a simple conversation. One of those meetings could lead to the next revolution in music.
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