Yesterday, we learned that Glenn Danzig still uses a flip phone. Today, we learn that Jack White has still never even owned a cellphone of any kind. (Presumably, he only uses antique rotary phones hidden in tastefully upholstered furniture.) And he thinks the rest of us sheeple look damn silly staring down at our tiny little screens all the time.
White basically says as much in a new interview with the UK’s Channel 4 News. “For someone like me, who is one of the few who doesn’t own a cellphone, it is pretty funny to walk down the street and see everyone doing this,” he says, miming someone looking down at their screen.
“I’m an anomaly and I’m looking at everybody and to me everyone sort of looks silly,” he adds. “And then you’re like, whatever, that’s their lives. Or who knows, maybe this is the way everything is going to be from now on. I have no idea. Nobody really does. Maybe it’ll turn into implants. Probably it’ll turn into a microchip behind our eyeball or whatever.”
White has long been a known cellphone hater. He’s always complained about camera phones at his shows, and since 2018, he’s banned all phones outright, forcing concertgoers to put their devices away in special Yondr pouches. (Not that that’s stopped fans from recording poor-quality audio of his shows from inside the Yondr pouches. Where there’s a will, there’s a way.)
In the same Channel 4 News interview, White talks about the decision to ban phones at his shows, saying it started out almost as a joke:
I thought it was a big art project at first just to see if people would think it was funny or cool or just a new experience, almost like an escape room or something like that. ‘Hey, wouldn’t it be funny if we had this arena show and everyone who showed up we told them they couldn’t use their phones?’ We thought maybe even at first people would be mad enough to demand their money back, and it might be something interesting would happen. To my surprise and everyone around me’s surprise, everyone loved it, and we’ve been doing it now for over a year. It’s been shocking how much people love it. And it brings up these real big questions, like — so you need someone to tell you you can’t use it to actually not use it? How sad. That’s pretty sad. Again, coming from someone who isn’t part of it, it’s easy for me to say it because I don’t have that addiction.
If you can’t choose to stop drinking for a day, it’s got that much of a hold on you, it’s a sad thing. So the same thing with that, if you can’t just put that down for an hour and experience life in a real way, that’s sad. And it’s maybe even sadder that you had to be told to do it, that you didn’t naturally want to do it on your own.
A good portion of it, 90-plus percent, is ‘Look what I’m doing that you’re not doing. See what I’m doing that you’re not doing?’ That’s why people are doing it. It’s this competition, voyeurism, jealousy — those are really shallow human characteristics. Come on, man. That’s not people like, ‘I just watched the best film of my life. I just heard the most beautiful poem.’ It shows you that if it’s not happening in the moment then it’s not worth it to them. So a lot of that is really nonsense! It’s sad, too. It’s funny, man.
Watch the interview below.
“If you can’t just put that [mobile phone] down for an hour and experience life in a real way, that’s sad.”
Musician Jack White talks about why he doesn’t own a mobile phone and why he’s banned mobiles from his concerts, in the latest Ways to Change the World podcast. pic.twitter.com/hFkSQI9hTr
— Channel 4 News (@Channel4News) June 19, 2019