Has Facebook killed the mosh pit?

Ah, the mosh pit. It is the very essence of what it means to be a young person in the post-modern age. It's where we go to escape the digital confines of the internet and reconnect with real people in a somewhat primal fashion.

Ah, the mosh pit.

It is the very essence of what it means to be a young person in the post-modern age.

It’s where we go to escape the digital confines of the internet and reconnect with real people in a somewhat primal fashion.

Entering that place – the rough, sweaty, exhausting pool of bodies at the foot of a rock concert stage – reminds us that, while we each are individuals, we are also linked together in a group called humanity.

We are not isolated.

The mosh unites us.

At least, it used to.

In recent years a toxic combination of social media sites like Facebook and mobile phones have corroded the mosh.

Once upon a time, the mosh pit was the place to drop your defences and amass as a human mass.

It was the place to taste others’ sweat and possibly taste your own blood. There you would haul your fallen, unknown compatriots up off the floor and then knock them down again in a rough story that allowed you to be antagonist and protagonist all at once.

Everyone would leave at the end, wet and bruised, ears ringing, shoes lost, shirts torn. But we all felt good as we waved farewell to the new friends that we would probably never see again. There was a sense of satisfaction, like we’d reasserted our position of physical relevance in the universe.

The mosh was proof that we’re not all turning into robots.

It’s not like that anymore.

I was recently at an Arctic Monkeys show, under the stars in Stanley Park’s glorious Malkin Bowl amphitheatre.

The crowd was large, but as the band took the stage, it quickly became apparent that most attendees were more interested in the fact than the act of being there.

To my surprise, people had hauled along their tools of isolation and were rapidly constructing invisible Facebook Walltents on the dance floor.

As the music began the entire crowd seemed to be on their mobile phones updating their Facebook statuses or posting some inane witticism to Twitter.

The mosh became mush, devolved into a static crowd of trendy looking Sims.

Some hands held mobile phones aloft where they gently swayed like beacons in a motionless sea.

At first, this seemed to be a modern tribute to the ancient pothead ritual of raising a lighter during a ballad.

In fact, they were working hard to capture a video clip or photo to serve as inscrutable online evidence of their attendance.

Many that didn’t hold their devices heavenward bowed their heads. The cold blue glow of a cellphone screen lit up their faces as they solemnly disengaged with reality to get all interactive with someone else somewhere else in the social media space.

Despite the tight-packed conditions in front of the stage, physical contact was clearly discouraged. As I danced, disdainful glances were cast against me. (Too bad for the folks I bumped into that there’s no “block user” command in the real world.)

At one point, I looked back at the crowd and found an unending sea of dead eyes.

Then it struck me: nobody is here. Certainly, dotted through the audience were pockets of motion where others like me dared to respond physically to the Arctic Monkeys.

But otherwise the scene was one from the Twilight Zone. If I’d run back through the crowd and found every figure to be a hologram, I wouldn’t have been surprised.

This was an army of automatons anxiously awaiting the last bar of music to fade so that they could scurry back to the anti-social sanctity of their social media worlds.

And too soon (for me, anyway) it was all over. The band literally fled the stage and the silence of the forest poured back like a dark, thick syrup into the bowl of the amphitheatre.

Then as the crowd quickly dispersed, a new sound rose.

It was like the scattered, frenetic sound of an insect swarm’s feet fleeing from a predator.

In fact, it was thousands of fingers tapping on mobile phone keyboards, tweeting, texting, instant messaging, and updating online statuses.

Heads were down and no one was talking as figures stumbled and bumped into each other on their way to the gate.

And that was how the crowd of ghosts floated away into the darkness of the trees.

It was then I recalled the lyrics from a song, Reality TV, by the Infadels:

“You talk to the numbers/And text phone the others/Why go out when you can just stay at home?”

If video killed the radio star then Facebook has clearly killed the mosh pit.

Such a pity.

Andrew Robulack is a Whitehorse-based freelance writer and technology solutions consultant specializing in Macs, the internet, and mobile devices. Read his blog online at

www.geeklife.ca.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

In a Feb. 17 statement, the City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology used for emergency response. (Haley Ritchie/Yukon News)
Three words could make all the difference in an emergency

City of Whitehorse announced it had adopted the what3words location technology

Jesse Whelen, Blood Ties Four Directions harm reduction councillor, demonstrates how the organization tests for fentanyl in drugs in Whitehorse on May 12, 2020. The Yukon Coroner’s Service has confirmed three drug overdose deaths and one probable overdose death since mid-January. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Three overdose deaths caused by “varying levels of cocaine and fentanyl,” coroner says

Heather Jones says overdoses continue to take lives at an “alarming rate”

Wyatt's World for Feb. 24, 2021.
WYATT’S WORLD

Wyatt’s World for Feb. 24, 2021.

Approximately 30 Yukoners protest for justice outside the Whitehorse courthouse on Feb. 22, while a preliminary assault hearing takes place inside. The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society, based in Watson Lake, put out a call to action over the weekend. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News)
Courthouse rally denounces violence against Indigenous women

The Whitehorse rally took place after the Liard Aboriginal Women’s Society put out a call to action

Susie Rogan is a veteran musher with 14 years of racing experience and Yukon Journey organizer. (Yukon Journey Facebook)
Yukon Journey mushers begin 255-mile race

Eleven mushers are participating in the race from Pelly Crossing to Whitehorse

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. As the legislature prepares to return on March 4, the three parties are continuing to finalize candidates in the territory’s 19 ridings. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Nine new candidates confirmed in Yukon ridings

It has been a busy two weeks as the parties try to firm up candidates

David Malcolm, 40, has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm a police officer after an incident in Whitehorse on Feb. 18. (Phil McLachlan/Capital News)
Man resists arrest, assaults officer

A Whitehorse man has been charged with assaulting and attempting to disarm… Continue reading

Yukon Energy in Whitehorse on Aug. 4, 2020. A site on Robert Service Way near the Alaska Highway has been selected as the future home of Yukon Energy’s energy storage project. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Site selected for Yukon Energy battery project

Planned to be in service by the end of 2022

The Yukon government and the Yukon First Nations Chamber of Commerce have signed a letter of understanding under the territory’s new procurement policy. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
First Nation business registry planned under new procurement system

Letter of understanding signals plans to develop registry, boost procurement opportunities

US Consul General Brent Hardt during a wreath-laying ceremony at Peace Arch State Park in September 2020. Hardt said the two federal governments have been working closely on the issue of appropriate border measures during the pandemic. (John Kageorge photo)
New U.S. consul general says countries working closely on COVID-19 border

“I mean, the goal, obviously, is for both countries to get ahead of this pandemic.”

Legislative assembly on the last day of the fall sitting in Whitehorse on Nov. 22, 2018. (Crystal Schick/Yukon News file)
Start of spring sitting announced

The Yukon legislature is set to resume for the spring sitting on… Continue reading

Whitehorse City Hall. (Joel Krahn/Yukon News file)
City hall, briefly

A look at decisions made by Whitehorse City Council this week

Most Read