Unplugged by Emily Smart

Last week I was invited/cajoled/told in no uncertain terms that I would be attending Bandquest which according to its website is ‘A platform for the next generation of contemporary musicians to step out and perform in a supportive and encouraging competition format.’

I went along not feeling supportive or encouraging and rather wishing I could be at home in front of the TV on a Friday night. However, my just-turned 13 daughter was performing as the drummer with her band Socially Awkward, so I felt a little obligated. I don’t do gigs. I have never been a fan of being at a venue full of people squished into a mosh pit without access to a bar or toilet. Getting sweaty with strangers is over-rated, and usually smelly. But I didn’t need to worry about this as the event was held in a theatre at a local grammar school with proper seats – I know: rock and roll!

New Zealand’s got talent

Socially Awkward – placed a worthy second in the competition

One by one the bands came onto the stage and performed a couple of songs, and I sat back amazed at the sheer talent that was on show. Kids between the ages of 11 and 13 were playing instruments, singing, dancing and having fun. Not only that, they came on, announced what songs they were about to perform and some of them were doing ‘shout-outs’ to teachers, supporters and parents. The confidence levels were really something to behold. There were even some original songs too – and mercifully they weren’t the usual teenage angst fodder written by acne ridden youths in black leather jackets sporting too much eyeliner.

Biased as I might be, I absolutely loved Socially Awkward; what a polished set they performed, and quite rightly were awarded second place. I couldn’t have been more proud. The winning act was nothing short of brilliant and bless the young lead singer who spoke on behalf of her band. She thanked their supporters and then congratulated all the other bands that had taken part. I was inspired by her maturity.

Virtual reality

Still from Ready Player One, a film by Steven Spielberg

Right, enough of the proud mummy moment and fast forward to family Saturday movie night with our good friends playing host. Chris had chosen Ready Player One a thought-provoking film from the master of movie magic Steven Spielberg. Set in 2045, the film shows how humanity has given up on real life with the characters stepping into a virtual world as avatars playing out fantasy roles. It was an action-packed film, with some nice 1980s pop culture references. If I’m being picky, it was fairly disjointed and I’ll never need to watch it again, but what was disturbing was how frightening the future could be and I don’t think we’re that far from actually living it.

Let me explain: all of my children are permanently attached to devices. One of my boys is addicted to Fortnite which, as far as I can tell, involves guns, death and a lot of shouting. He plugs his headphones in, joins a game with his friends from school and is totally immersed for hours at a time. Spielberg’s view of the future is already happening under my own roof. My son is lost in a virtual world that glorifies murder. How frightening is that?

Keeping it real

I could write an entire blog about my dislike of video gaming, but I’d only be repeating what many have said before me. So instead, I’ll leave you with a few thoughts about how I would love the future to look. It would be one where kids can grow and develop their talents – whatever they may be – where singing, dancing, acting and having self-made fun is the norm. Where riding bikes, skateboarding and scootering are cool. Where going outside is an exciting adventure and enjoying family and friends in their company rather than remotely via a device is important in daily life.

All a bit heavy and serious for me you might be thinking, but watch Ready Player One and you’ll see how we’re only a few clicks away from living in someone else’s constructed reality that isn’t real at all.

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2 Comments on “Unplugged by Emily Smart

  1. Glad you put pen to paper (so to speak). Congratulate my granddaughter and lots of love to all of you.

  2. Couldn’t agree more about your vision for the future. Somehow though, I think that’s the past, our past, and it’s not going to be the future any time soon 😦

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