Smartphones, iPads, and Tablets Come With a Cone of Silence


Perhaps this sounds familiar to you… I recently attended a performance at a local school and looked forward to enjoying a band program and one-act play performance. The opening announcements were made. The performers, carrying their instruments, came onto the stage, took their positions and waited for the conductor to down-beat the start of the first score. The conductor raised his arms signaling the players to lift and prepare instruments. Unfortunately, it also signaled a score of parents, grandparents, friends, and other supporters to also lift and prepare iPads and other tablets to record the performance. Gone are the days of discreetly videoing a child’s performance using a small recording device. Now everyone sitting behind the proud supporter is able to enjoy seeing a 9.8″ (diagonal) live rendition of the performance along with the accompanying glow of the well-lit display. What makes this more laughable is that the parent doesn’t actually watch the performance occurring on the stage before them. Instead, they intently watch the screen held before them so that not a moment is missed. While I understand the desire to capture the moment for later viewing, I do not believe it merits diminishing the performance for everyone else due to the obtrusive nature of the device held high and glowing for all to see.

In another situation, I was attending a high school wrestling match and observed a similar phenomenon– a parent of a competing wrestler holding high an iPad to capture the moment for all to see. Again, the parent can’t actually watch the real, live action taking place on the mat because the focus must be on the device recording the activity. Once more those behind the supporter are distracted by the mini-billboard displaying the action recorded by the proud parent. The answer for both of these situations is to buy the video of the event from the host. If not available, then please revert to a discreet video camera.

I believe these examples are just an extension of what we have all observed with public use of cell phones. I’m sure you’ve been on a bus, in a restaurant, doctor’s office, or other situation where a person is carrying on a conversation via cell phone that should, please… really… should be taking place in a private location. Somehow the act of placing a rectangular amalgamation of plastic and electronics to the ear brings with it the warm blanket of anonymity; however, just like the cone of silence in the TV show “Get Smart” the anonymity is false and all those around can clearly hear, enjoy and partake in one half of the personal conversation going on next to us. I’ve had to remove myself and my kids from these situations due to the rated “M” for mature nature of the discussion taking place. I still remember the shout fest that I heard in a shopping store parking lot. Everyone within her shouting distance new exactly what she thought about the person on the receiving end of her rant. My teenage son and I both learned some new words and phrases and interesting commands that day. Can’t stuff like this wait? or at least talk in a low voice. Just because the person you are talking with is not in front of you in person does not mean you have to shout for them to hear you. Those of us around you can hear you with no problems. And, I still don’t think it is physically possible to do what that lady insisted in that parking lot…

Now, as I’ve presented in a couple of examples above, this assumed anonymity, this cone of silence, seems to be growing to encompass a bubble around the person when using a smartphone, iPad or Tablet. Recording a sports event for all to see is one thing. But, can you imagine the cell phone situation extended to a person using a tablet and conversing via Skype, messenger, or some other audio/video technique. The bus ride or park visit could provide
a real-time reality show for all those nearby to see and enjoy.  If you happen to be that person, there will be no guessing your favorite websites, videos, or anime. We will become quite familiar with your personal life, your Facebook status, your investments, whatever you feel comfortable showing us in your cone of silence. Oh, by the way, when you get that new tablet with the HD camera and hi-def screen, do you mind zooming in a little more, we’d like to get a closer view of what we see… now if I could just have bowl of popcorn to go with it…

Oh look at the time… I guess I’ll grab my iPads.  I’ve got a choir performance to attend.   I’ll record with one iPad, video chat with another so Grandma can see from 1000 miles away, and I’ll need a third so that I can follow along with the versus from an internet site of songs.  Hope the folks behind me have some sunglasses…

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Smartphones, iPads, and Tablets Come With a Cone of Silence — 4 Comments

  1. I truly appreciate your well thought out and researched content. You??ve really hit a home run on this topic. I agree with you. I hope you plan on writing more articles. I will read them.