Put Your Phone Away At A Concert

You’re seeing your favorite band. You’re hearing your favorite song. You’re attending the best concert that has even taken place on the face of the earth. A woman in front of you takes out her phone. You think she might want to capture this beautiful moment, but no: she’s checking her email.

Unfortunately, such incidents are becoming more and more common. I am here today to convince you to leave your phone at home the next time you attend a concert.

I am not unlike the woman I just described, checking her email at Paradiso; I am just as eager to stay on top of things as everyone else: I have my smartphone glued to my hand too, half the time. I understand the need to be accessible 24/7, to be in the loop. I experience it too.

But there is another side to this situation. There is a force at work here which is not individual, but collective, not “in the know”, but mindful, not anxious but relaxed. A concert offers an opportunity for repose, and I think you should take it. Here’s why.

You’re not alone at a concert. You purchased a ticket and thereby entered into a contract. Like any contract, this comes with certain rights as well as certain duties: you have the right to be there and the right to enjoy yourself and the right to hear the music you paid to hear. But you also have the duty to make sure your fellow audience members enjoy these same rights. Your rights are limited only by the rights of those around you. Once you enter the Paradiso’s hallowed halls, you and your fellow audience members are jointly responsible for making the show a success; this responsibility does not lie solely with the performers. A wise man once said: ask not what your concert can do for you, ask what you can do for your concert.

By taking out your phone, you are polluting the experience of your fellow audience members. The light given off by the screen will distract them, and if, God forbid, you raise your phone to record the performance, you are also obstructing their view.

I understand that your enjoyment might translate into a desire to capture that feeling, that moment or that song on the small screen forever. I am sorry to tell you that this cannot be done. I am sorry to tell you that time passes. Things fade away. And, above all: technology has not yet advanced far enough to capture the true feeling of seeing the best concert you have ever seen unfold before your eyes. I don’t think it ever will. So instead of focussing on your battery percentage or the lighting of your photo or the amount of likes it will earn you on Instagram, you might as well enjoy it while it lasts.

Perhaps you took out your phone because you were not attending the best concert of your life. Perhaps you took it out because you were bored. Perhaps you took it out because of an emergency, in which case you should leave the concert and go see your grandma in the hospital right away. In all other cases, I beg of you to muster up some semblance of respect for the performers working their ass off on the stage, and for the people around you who might, at this very moment, be enjoying the best concert of their lives.

If you cannot take out your phone at a concert, what can you do? How can you come to terms with the passing of time and the fading of memories? There’s only one way, really: enjoy it while it lasts. Listen to the beautiful notes, feel the beat in your bones and belt along to your favorite verses.  I know I will.

A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad)

I’m still raising money for suicide prevention everyone. You can donate here. But I’m also doing something that is equally as important, if not more so: raising awareness. You should all be aware that thousands of people all over the world are struggling with their mental health everyday. If there was more understanding for their struggle, the world would be a better place.

What I’m about to do now is going to be super-frustrating: let me recommend a play to you. It is a play you can only see if you can manage to travel through time, and it is called A Super Happy Story (About Feeling Super Sad).

I saw the play at the Edinburgh Fringe this August, and it means a lot to me. I won’t wax lyrical about life-changing experiences or some such, because of course the real life-changing experience was my depression itself. But to see my illness recognized, understood, and performed so brilliantly and accurately on stage was a huge relief.

The play is accurately named. Its presentation, full of glitter and singing and chorus lines, is super happy. It’s subject matter, ranging from alcoholism to depression and suicide, is anything but. The writers and performers have managed to unearth the comedy inherent in anything that is bleak or sad, and made use of that comedy without devaluating the terrifying experience that is mental illness. Bravo.

I always tell people that no one is alone in their fight against mental illness, but I don’t always believe it. Jon Brittain and Matthew Floyd Jones made me believe it, and that felt incredible. Of course you can’t travel back in time to see this play, but you can do the next best thing: read it.  Paperbacks and ebooks are available from Amazon

World Suicide Prevention Day 2017

It’s only because of my Facebook Timeline that I found out today was World Suicide Prevention day. It’s been over two years since I’ve been so blissfully ignorant of that fact, and I’m not sure whether to be happy or ashamed of that. I’ve been way too busy living to think about dying, and of course that’s great; it’s amazing. 

On the other hand, I don’t want to forget. I don’t ever want to fully leave behind the things I went through in 2015. I don’t want to forget how fragile and precious my mental health is, I don’t ever want to take it for granted, and I think you shouldn’t either. So I decided to turn to my blog.

Once again it’s time for me to get on social media and fundraise. I’ve said it before, I’ll no doubt say it again, but someone, somewhere in the world, dies of suicide every 40 seconds. That’s way too many people, every single minute.

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The Elephant In The Room Or: The End Of Writer’s Block

Just over a week ago I blogged a complaint to my Muse: she had deserted me. Writer’s block had set in and I WAS NOT WRITING. It was a nightmare. Almost as soon as I published the post, a solution presented itself. A short story of mine got shortlisted for the Fantastic Story Competition organized by Dutch Comic Con. Voting ends March 12th. VOTE NOW!

I was surprised by the effect this seemingly insignificant event had on my creativity. I felt validated, I felt wanted, I felt cool. Simultaneously, I felt like a bit of an idiot. It’s a little  childish to only write when you get positive feedback on your work, and then, when you feel as though you’re not getting enough positive feedback, to just…quit.

I want to be a writer. I mean to say: I want to make writing into a career. I want to be a person who makes a living by writing stuff. That doesn’t just mean blogging on topics I feel passionate about on moments I feel passionate about them. Sometimes it means just sitting down to do the work, which is why I’m pledging to do at least one blogpost a week from now on. Wish me luck.

There are, however, two sides to every problem, and sometimes there’s an infinite number of sides. Continue reading