Earlier this week, production duo Lost Kings debuted their newest single alongside vocalist Emily Warren, coming as a highly necessary call to action for those of us living our lives behind a screen. The message of “Phone Down” is about as straightforward as you’d imagine, the main chorus spelling things out as clearly as can be. “Why don’t you put that f*cking phone down. Darling, so we can be alone now . . Why don’t you ever put that phone down? What could be so god damn important? That it can’t wait until the morning.”
In a day and age where the prevalence of social media has led to some of the most significant changes in modern culture and society, there is often little time to sit back and reflect on the negative effects in can have on a more immediate and personal level. As I wrote back in February of 2015, following the embarrassing 24-hour Jack Ü live stream party, the tendency for people to place more focus on their social media reputation and image than their engagement with the experience itself is what can lead to unhappiness and distance between every party.
“To paint a metaphor: it’s as if one student in the cafeteria receives a huge piece of cake for dessert, while the rest of the class looks on in envy. This student then parades around the lunchroom showing people the cake and commenting on her luck and blessedness that she was able to get a slice, but never once picks up the fork to take a bite. To attend such exclusive shows and focus only on Snapchat and Instagram throughout, is to deny your classmates cake without ever intending on eating it yourself.”
Even though I was referring to phone usage while at live events in the above section, the idea carries even more weight when placed in an intimate setting. In “Phone Down,” the narrative follows someone alone in their room with a significant other who spoils the entire atmosphere when they decide to pull out their phone and flood the space in bright blue light. By failing to live in the moment and enjoy the immediacy of human contact, the song’s main voice expresses betrayal and hurt.
“The main factor is the size of the venue. No matter who is performing, less space in the room necessarily means more awareness of each individual present. If you find yourself in a room of 10 people, you will naturally have a much clearer understanding of those people’s actions and moods than in a room of 10,000. This holds true especially for DJs, who must read and analyze the crowd constantly as part of their ability to play a satisfying set. If these small groups of people all appear to be on their phones, whether filming the performer, taking pictures, or otherwise, it affects the entire group and the event itself. The DJs will be distracted, the crowd will be focused on themselves rather than the music, and the people actually trying to listen will have their own experience tarnished as a result of the chaos.”
Listen to the passionate and anthemic original by Lost Kings and Emily Warren below, and while you listen, how about putting that phone down?