You know the scene: You’re busting sick moves at a concert, your fave artist looks right at you, and you whip out your phone to get a shot. Or, you keep your phone out—just in case—something insane happens and you want to make sure you capture it. Or, you Snapchat the entire experience (you know these people/you are this person). All of those are standard fare for the concert-going crowd these days. But Kellie Pickler says, “enough is enough.”
The country star, who first found fame by finishing sixth on American Idol's sixth season, and going on to become a successful country singer and winner of the 16th season of Dancing with the Stars, is over the whole cell-phone-in-her-face experience at her concerts. “There is no eye contact anymore,” she told us when she stopped by InStyle’s New York offices to discuss her latest role as brand ambassador for Rockin’ Refuel protein milk beverages. “At my concerts when I’m performing, sometimes all I notice are people’s phones. It’s very distracting. I think about the people who paid all this money to be in the front row, and they’re holding up their phones. They could have sat at home and watched me on YouTube.”
In fact, phones have changed the way Pickler performs. “I dismiss the people with their phones and try to perform to the people paying attention. If someone is standing with their phone in front of their face the whole time, there is a barrier. It’s like they put up a shield that says they don’t want to be bothered. It’s rude and disrespectful. I’d much rather spend my time engaging with someone and thinking to myself, why they connect with the song. You have to be present. You have to be in the moment.”
Unsurprisingly, Pickler herself isn’t the biggest fan of social media. “I think it is one of the most toxic things that this younger generation has,” she said. “Kids validate themselves based on how many people like their picture on Instagram and that’s really sad. It’s so silly.”
The alternative, she said, is finding joy in the present—sans documentation. “Social media is obviously a good tool to promote whatever it is that you’re doing or keep in touch with loved ones that are not in the same place,” she said. “But you have to know when to disconnect from that world or you lose yourself really fast. I’d rather have coffee or a drink and just talk in person. I’m all about eye contact. I live in the present.” And that means she doesn’t take out her phones at concerts, either.