The millennial generation was born into an Internet-driven world and raised on wireless technology. Their games are on tablets, their books are on e-readers and their conversations are conducted via text. For them, the Internet was never dialed-up or plugged in. Wireless accessibility has always been omnipresent in their lives.
A common criticism against the millennial generation is that they rely excessively upon their smartphones — that they’d be better served by putting their phones away and living each moment unencumbered, which is certainly true sometimes. We all have that friend who relies on his or her smartphone to avoid social interaction, rather than to engage in it.
However, smartphones aren’t always used to avoid communication — mostly, they’re another form of communication. Smartphones can be used to enhance live experiences — everything from sporting events to business meetings can take on new meaning when digitally documented.
The smartphone transforms a casual observer into an active participant. It captures crucial moments and preserves them for years to come. And it provides knowledge and information, deepening experiences that would otherwise lack context.
It’s your tour guide at cultural events.
Whether you’re taking out-of-town friends around your home city, or you’re a tourist in your own town, it would be nice to get a little insight into what you’re looking at. This goes double for museums — you could either rent the audio guide for ten bucks, or you could use an app on your smartphone to customize and curate the tour yourself.
Some apps can even point you toward ‘hidden gems,’ non-touristy restaurants, and the best bars, clubs and activities. Other apps can steer you away from the worst of it — the tourist traps, the overrated restaurants, the sketchy bars and the clubs that are overrun by trend chasers. You have a portable library and travel guide that fits in the palm of your hand. Make sure that you take advantage of it.
Even if you go to an established location, such as a theme park or boardwalk, the smartphone is still a useful tool. Several apps can track waiting times for rides to ensure that you maximize your enjoyment during the day. The smartphone can also give you and your friends immediate weather updates — no one wants to get caught in the rain, and you should know whether to bring a jacket if it gets cold.
The smartphone is a must for live shows and concerts.
Broadway tickets, and for that matter, all live theater tickets, can be both expensive and hard to find. Trying to find them last-minute is even tougher. But the smartphone can make the search and the cost a little bit lighter. There are several apps which offer last minute theater tickets, in premium seats at that, for incredibly low prices. Nothing enhances your live theater experience like sitting in the orchestra section.
Concerts rarely start on time, and standing-room-only concerts are notorious for being dark, hot and difficult to navigate. Smartphones provide an easy way of communicating with your friends — to take turns waiting in line before the doors open, to notify your late buddy when the opening act is wrapping it up, and to find your group in a pitch-black room with screaming fans.
Smartphones are great at documenting concert memories, for taking group selfies with your friends, and for taking photos of the band when they hit the stage. But remember, smartphones should enhance the experience, not be the experience. Look up when someone’s killing it on stage.
It’s your personal commentator at sporting events.
Of all live events, sporting events have the most smartphone potential. Audience involvement is essential to the success of a sporting event, and the smartphone allows fans to become involved in new, exciting ways.
Sports diehards can use their smartphones to livetrack their favorite players’ stats, and analyze matchups before the teams even take the field. They can check the spreads to ensure that they are backing the right teams with precise accuracy. But most importantly, they can follow any number of online commentators and bloggers who can put the plays into context and offer professional insight into the game.
It’s your administrative assistant at business meetings.
Lastly, even in business meetings, the smartphone can enhance a person’s engagement in several ways. You have your calendar, your itinerary and your notepad right in front of you. When you have a presentation you’re about to give or a point you want to rebut, the smartphone is fantastic for on-the-spot, last-minute research. It’s always a safe bet to read the room — watch what your boss and the senior employees do, and proceed accordingly.
What does the future hold?
Clearly, the smartphone is crucial hardware, and it’s not going anywhere anytime soon. When used at the right time and in the right context, the smartphone can enhance any live experience significantly, in a way that was impossible years ago. It can inform us, it can organize us, and it can share us. It can document our stories, frame-by-frame, minute-by-minute. It can mark the memories of a life well-lived.