Do Our Phones Interfere With Our Experiences?


(Craig Ross and Lenny Kravitz 9/9/15 Phoenix, AZ photo by Alicia I. Gilbert Copyright 2015. All Rights Reserved).


Last night I had the privilege of experiencing one of my favorite artists, Lenny Kravitz, in concert, as part of his “Strut” tour. Although I have enjoyed his music since 1989, I heard him live and onstage for the first time nearly four years ago during his “Black and White America” tour.

At the time I had an old flip cell phone that took mediocre photos. My friend and I were in the front row. She had a phone that took decent photos. She took photos of him and the band. I never even pulled my phone out. I sang along, danced my little heart out and had one of the best experiences in my life. Lenny shook hands with everyone in the audience. Before the show began a couple sitting next to my friend and I chatted with us. They had their 5 year old son with them. The boy’s father had seen Lenny in concert several times before. “Oh, so you are an LK show virgin,” the man said. “Yes, I am.” I replied with a chuckle due to his word choice. “Let me tell you, you will never be the same.”

He was right. I am not the same. Experiencing that show made me step up my game when it came to my own artistic expression. It also made me want to do more in my life, to be around more people, and to be grateful for each day God gives us.


Fast forward to last night’s show. We were at the same venue, and almost in the same seats as last time.


(Andra Day 9/9/15 Phoenix, AZ photo taken by Alicia I. Gilbert.)

We got there early and were in awe of Andra Day, who opened the show. She is a legend in the making. I took a couple of photographs at that point. As the audience cheered for her, I found myself intently listening, singing along and zoning out into my own little world during her set.

It is beautiful when that happens.


While the crew did the finishing touches to the set design I took a restroom break and talked to people in line. Some were not Phoenicians at all but traveled to Phoenix for that particular show. One woman noticed my shirt, which had “Paris ❤ Forever” on it and became excited. “I am French!” This created a great bonding moment between us because I have always wanted to live in Paris, and to experience what life is like there (I will have to write about that later).


When Lenny and his band came out onstage and started the show we were all ready…with our cell phones in the air…myself included. When did I become this person? Why do I feel the need to snap photos constantly? I own a film camera. I have not even moved to the digital age with a digital camera. So, how did this progression happen?

I would have to write that my purchase of a Smartphone a couple of years ago sparked this. Before that I did all kinds of artistic endeavors under the radar. Now, thanks to this micro-computer that I occasionally use to talk to people, I do all kinds of things from shooting videos to shooting photos to posting pics of my art and snippets of me


(Audience at Lenny Kravitz’s concert in Phoenix, AZ 9/9/15 with cell phones in the air.)

singing. I am posting this blog post via my Smartphone. When did I become so adept at typing with one finger versus all 10? My typing teacher from high school must be mortified by what texting and so forth has created. Typing was a form of artistry to her. Now we type with one finger and put our cell phones up in the air snapping away, whether it is taking selfies or pics of people in pop-culture, and that has somehow translated as an experience?!

Why do we do that so much now? Is it to feed our egos? Do we do it as a way to one-up someone? I seriously don’t think so. I think we are so hungry for real connection, communication and relationships in our lives, that we reach out any way that we can…this has become our way.

At times it is creating disconnections instead.

At one point early in the concert, I stopped snapping (so much) and closed my eyes. Doing this transported me into my own little world again as Lenny and the band improvised and played various genres of music even though some of the songs were his early hits. I realized at one point one reason his music resonates with me so much: his career took off just as I became an adult. 1989 was a monumental year in my young life. “Let Love Rule” was an offering of how to go about my life while being away from my family of origin for the first time ever. God works through this man via his music.

So, when I kind of came to myself during the concert the stage was being bum-rushed by fans and my friend and I got tussled a little bit in that. As Lenny came down off of the stage and walked straight back with security literally making a path through a sea of people, I realized a woman on my left was singing along, “Let Love Rule” and we just harmonized a bit. She said to me, “You sure can dance and sing. I saw you up here dancing.” It made me wonder what on earth had I been doing. I’d say my dance style is just my self-expression of what I feel. My dancing usually has no names for the steps I am doing.

Now, that is what I am talking about when I say having an experience. I want more of those kinds of experiences and fewer material possessions. I have been blessed to have some things, but nothing comes without a price. The cost for isolation and incomplete participation is our lives. When we don’t fully engage we pay with our lives. We can never get those moments back. We can not re-live conversations and other communal events, like concerts. Experiencing life with friends and family gives us great memories. I would rather pay for tickets to something that allows me to feel a sense of connection with others than to have a lot of stuff that I really don’t need. I am not writing that I want to live a pauper’s life. I am writing that if I live to be an old woman, or if I have the opportunity to experience a few moments on a death bed before I transform and leave this body and the Earth, that I can recount the times I had on vacations, at seminars, in church, at my own showcases, and at concerts like last night’s. I can remember who I was with and the wonderful times with that person or people, as well as the more challenging times. I can say how it all changed my life for the better and made me want to strive for something greater in my own life…like putting down my cell phone some so I can live fully.

As far as last night’s show is concerned, I walk away with wanting to live more in the moment…dance, sing, spend time with family and friends. I want to be fully in the experience of an event, enough to let that event take me away into myself…the highest part of my soul and spirit.

I walk away from this experience with this: put down the cell phone and live baby.