Olson: A night without faces buried in cell phones was refreshing

Published 10:25 am Friday, December 20, 2013

There was a nice-sized audience gathered last week at Knowlton Auditorium for the Ellis Middle School winter band concerts. My wife and I like to sit in the balcony area where we have a nice overview of all the student musicians. Dressed in white tops and black slacks, the students — scores of them — take up a good portion of the audience seating area and wait their turn to take the stage. It’s a wonderful sight from the upper seats.

Still, tonight there was something that didn’t seem quite right.

It was about 10 minutes before the first ensemble was to begin. All of the students were seated, visiting with each other and laughing. Basically, just being teenagers or soon-to-be teenagers. Then it hit me.

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“Look,” I said to Kristen. “Do you see it? No one is texting.” No, not one neck was craned in the now-familiar locked downward position.

Turns out that students were asked not to have their portable communication devices (i.e.phones) at the concert, as it was thought that they may present a … hmmm … what’s the word?? Oh yes — a distraction.

How refreshing!

Once we noticed this once-in-a-lifetime phenomenon we were amazed at what we observed. Young faces actually looking at each other, faces looking around the auditorium or up at the stage area. Some were seen fidgeting, or calmly seated in quiet thought.

My guess is that the three hours of the concert would be the longest period of time that any of them would ever be without their electronic leash. That in itself might have been just as worthwhile of a learning experience for them as the time they spent on stage performing.

I resolve to try this relaxing mental exercise myself sometime soon, and free myself from my digital appendage. But I’ve gotta run right now. My texts have been blaring nonstop since I started writing this and my daughter is beeping in on FaceTime.