Alone in a Crowd

It seems there is a new craze spreading that is all the rage at weddings and private parties, but is moving into the club scene as well. They call it “Silent Disco“.

Everyone gets a pair of wireless headphones that can be tuned to any of several channels serving up various music styles. Then you all go out on the floor and dance to your own beat.

This makes a modicum of sense if you’re throwing a party at your apartment and don’t want to keep the neighbors up all night with your racket. But the notion of everyone dancing to a different tune seems a little like missing the point of the party. In fact, I fail to see why this would be different then everyone using their own iPods on the dance floor. With even a handful of different tunes playing in people’s heads, the floor has to be just a jumble of rhythms. Why would 60 different tunes be more cacophonous than 6? And with the iPod solution, there’s no extra equipment to buy or rent.

I guess my larger confusion here is the lack of a shared experience. The point of a party is to share a fun experience with others. Even if you don’t particularly care for the music, being out there with everyone else and bopping along is a bonding of sorts. But if everyone is just physically near, but is aurally disconnected, is the experience still shared?

Perhaps this is an extension of the cell phone society. Often when in the company of others these days (especially younger people), every pause in a conversation or activity is punctuated by flipping open a phone and reading or replying to a text message. It seems in these cases that while you may be sharing space with another person, you are not really sharing the experience, or at least all of it. It’s tempting to show my age by claiming that this is the harbinger of a doomed generation, incapable of truly being immersed in any one moment, of truly sharing in a snippet of life. But that’s not fair. It’s just different, not wrong. Every generation thinks that to some degree their progeny are doomed. But it’s still weird. We can agree on that, right?

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