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Three Days Grace Drummer Neil Sanderson Asks ‘What’s So Smart About Smartphones?’

Neil Sanderson of Three Days Grace
Scott Legato, Getty Images

Guest blogger Neil Sanderson of Three Days Grace checks in each month with an exclusive column for Loudwire. In future blogs, the drummer will keep us up to date on the next 3DG album as the band is busy working on the new disc. But in this piece, he talks about how smartphone technology has impacted the concert-going experience, plus he offers his views on virtual reality and other intriguing topics:

I’m perplexed as to the number of people who are all about documenting moments of their lives with smartphone video, and in doing so, miss the moment and the experience because they’re distracted trying to capture the perfect ‘shot.’ What a weird phenomenon! What ever happened to a personal memory? A private experience which is sacred to you? Perhaps we’re all a bit guilty of it though … wanting to have some sort of proof that “I was there,” and then attempt to show it to as many people as possible.

It’s a pretty recent thing, too. Only in the past few years have I noticed the sea of smartphones at our concerts. Where there used to be a Bic lighter, now there’s a Galaxy. Where there used to be rock horns, now there’s an iPhone. Where there used to be shirtless drunk people….there are still shirtless drunk people, and they’re looking for their Blackberrys in the mud.

Where is the line between augmenting our real experience, and clouding our recollection of reality because of an infatuation with documenting everything? A person who filmed a 90-minute unedited concert on their device was there in body, but were they there in mind and spirit to take in the true reality of the moment? As if it’s more desirable to watch it later in the comfort of your own home, rather than feel the energy, the vibe, the social togetherness that live music is all about. Now if that’s the preferred way of the future, I’m a little freaked out.

I recently read some stats about the huge online virtual world “Second Life.” It confirmed some of my fears. For those who may not know, Second Life is where you can create an ‘Avatar’ and explore the virtual world, meet others, socialize, trade and purchase virtual ‘assets’ etc. Check this out… over the last 10 years, users spent $3.6 billion dollars on these virtual assets, the most popular being virtual women’s hair styles … WTF?! Could this kinda thing be the new ‘go-to’ for escaping reality when real life isn’t doing it for you anymore? What ever happened to just smoking a joint? (Can people in Colorado buy virtual weed?)

Don’t get me wrong. I’m an enthusiast … for technology, too! I mean innovation obviously brings us so many amazing things (GPS, online porn, etc.). But some social platforms allow us to essentially hide behind a computer and anonymously be a total alter-ego in another world with other realtime alter-egos. What happens if the next generation is only socially comfortable being plugged in to a virtual world they’ve created and they control? The notion of having to cope with the ups and downs, the boredom, the stress, and sometimes suffer the painful memories and experiences we call “Real Life” might just be too much to bear. These social bubbles we create today may become shells that future generations may choose not to break out of.

But being thrown to the wolves and being exposed to the uncomfortable and harsh realities of the world, and face to face with the other people in it is good for you! It makes you stronger.

I’m a fan of Jason Silva, who is a filmmaker and sort of visionary in technological philosophy and was quoted as saying, “As technology has advanced, it acts as a buffer that shrinks the lag time between what we dream about and what we can create and substantiate in the world.” (Check out the Jason Silva YouTube link below … It’s a mind trip.)

Switching gears for a second, I want to finish with a different type of tech-talk. Over the holidays, We suddenly lost a dear friend, family member, and dedicated technician for Three Days Grace. Alan ‘Yeti’ Riches was an integral part of the band and crew on tour and in the studio. Alan toured with 3DG for many years as a guitar tech and drum tech. He also toured extensively with Finger Eleven, played drums in Diemonds, guitar in Before the Curtain, and was known by so many all across the music industry for being a very talented professional, and a really cool person. We will miss you.

-NS

Our thanks to Neil Sanderson for contributing his latest column to Loudwire. If you haven’t already picked up the band’s hit-filled album, ‘Transit of Venus,’ visit iTunes to purchase a copy. Follow Three Days Grace on Facebook and Twitter.

Watch Jason Silva’s ‘To Understand Is To Perceive Patterns’

Previous: Neil Sanderson Reflects on an Eventful 2013

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