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Arianna Chatzidakis | Contributing Writer | Friday, 16 June 2017

On How Technology Has Changed The Way We Experience Music Festivals

On How Technology Has Changed The Way We Experience Music Festivals

The Debrief: For better, and for worse.

It's no secret that technology has had a huge impact on our day-to-day lives, from the way we capture and share content online, to the way we communicate with friends and family on the other side of the world. And with the rising popularity of social media and mobile phones, it was only going to be a matter of time before technology impacted the way millennials experience music festivals - for better and for worse. Here at The Debrief, we've delved into the ways in which tech has affected our behaviour at, and experience of festivals...

For the better: Tech makes festival life easier

There's an app for everything nowadays. From being able to tune your guitar using your phone, to controlling your TV from your mobile, there are a number of weird and wonderful apps available on the market that aim to help make your life that little bit easier. And when it comes to festivals, there are several useful apps that are can actually enhance your festival experience. For example The Tent Finder app, which does exactly what it says on the tin - finds your tent in a vast field of thousands - has been a sure-fire hit with festivalgoers who find it a mission to relocate their tent after a long day of drinking. Using technology that lets you mark locations using GPS, the clever-working app saves the location of your tent on your phone's map, so come midnight you can find it really easily.

For the better: Tech can be used as a means to stay safe

With apps like Whatsapp, Snapchat, Instagram and Facebook Messenger, it's super easy to communicate with your friends and family to let them know your whereabouts, and if you're safe. While festivals and music gigs are no doubt fun experiences, they can also be scary if you get lost or separated from your friends in a large crowd. But if this does happen, you'll be able to instantly message your mates to let them know where you are. So in this sense, technology works as a great safety net.

Plus, although incidents like the bombing at the Ariana Grande concert in Manchester don't happen very often, it's always reassuring to know that you can contact your loved ones, or the emergency services, with a tap of a button.

For the better: There's no need to carry a purse

The introduction of contactless payment methods and Apple Pay has meant that festival attendees no longer need to carry cash around with them - a bank card or smartphone will suffice. As well as limiting the amount of belongings you need to carry around with you at a festival, these contactless payment methods mean that you're less likely to misplace cash, plus you don't have to wait in extortionately long queues for the cash point - bonus.

For the better: It's easier to organise travel arrangements

The likes of transporation tech apps like Uber have revolutionised the way we get to and from festivals. Instead of embarking on a long coach journey from the other side of the UK to reach the festival destination, you can now hail an Uber carpool and pick up your friends enroute for ease of travel.

Constandina Ambrosiou, 23, who is a reader of The Debrief, told us that: 'Technology has definitely had a positive impact on my experience of festivals. I feel far safer knowing that I can easily book a cab to pick me up if I need to go home of all a sudden, or if the festival runs into the early hours of the morning, as there's not much public transport that runs frequently during this time.'

For the worse: We have anxiety that our phones will run out of battery

If the smartphone culture has taught us anything, it's that our life cannot go on if our phone runs out of battery, and this is especially relevant when you're thrust into the environment of a music festival. The anxiety of your phone dying is very, very real, and while inventions like pop-up charging stations have been introduced at festivals, these often come with downsides, like long waiting times and hefty price tags.

The Debrief's Creative Editor, Katie Lyssejko, 25, has felt the wave of anxiety you get when your phone is almost out of juice at a gig: 'My phone running out of battery is something I constantly obsess over unnecessarily. I think I rely on my phone for communication, so I feel less anxious when I know it's got lots of power. I remember seeing a battery charging point at a festival I went to a few years ago, and I thought it was an amazing idea. But, the queue for the charging point was longer than the toilets! So I've since invested in a battery pack so that I can charge my phone on-the-go when I'm at a festival.' But instead of looking for ways to charge our phones when we're at festivals, shouldn't we be questioning why we can't survive without a decent battery life? It's surely not the end of the world if your mobile dies, right?

For the worse: We're not living in the moment; we're living on social media

Fuelled by the evolution of technology, our obsession with uploading content to social media to create the illusion of the 'perfect' life has definitely had an impact on the way we experience music festivals. As opposed to living in the moment and absorbing the atmosphere at the festival in the past, we're becoming more inclined to capture the perfect Instagram picture or Snapchat video, to prove to our friends that we're having a bloody good time. We now view festivals through the eyes of our camera lens, as opposed to the eyes in our head. And music artists know this: in the past, performers like Mumford & Sons have even proposed mobile phone bans at gigs in favour of a digital detox, although these measures are quite extreme.

Journalist Aimee Jakes, 23, is one of many festivalgoers often found glued to her phone. She told The Debrief: ‘I'm more likely to go to a festival because I can dress like I had a fight with an Arts and Crafts aisle (hello nipple pasties and glitter!) and capture the whole event through Instagram and in a #humblebrag status on Facebook. I read about some festivals which have done technology bans, meaning no phones and definitely no selfies… and the thought of going to one of those filled me with dread. How could I go somewhere really fun and NOT take photos? Wouldn’t I just forget everything? How will I tell my grandkids about the summer of 2017 with just memory alone? Also, none of my followers will know I have gone somewhere cool. In a sense, it’s almost like the stories we tell other people through social media make us happier than the actual feeling of joy at the time.’

For the worse: We're obsessed with finding internet hotspots

As I can personally attest, apart from dire weather conditions and uncomfortable sleep settings, most of my friends have complained about the lack of internet connectivity at festivals as being the number one issue. Seriously guys, is this what the world is coming to? Can't we last a single day without being connected to WiFi?

Our unhealthy obsession with posting to social media means that at festivals, we're constantly on the hunt for free WiFi and 4G hotspots. A study by Eventbrite in 2014 showed that 'roughly 1 out of every 4 posts about music festivals came from people participating remotely via live streams or other forms of engagement, [while] 17% of [music festival] discussions occured during festivals.' Like the previous point suggests, we're spending a lot of time live-streaming or Tweeting about our festival experience while we're actually living it, and this of course, requires us to be connected to the internet. It's like our lifeline, and we simply can't rest until we're secured onto it.

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Follow Arianna on Twitter @ariannachatz

Tags: Festivals, Tech