I recently went to my first open mic night in years. It was hosted in the basement of a friend of a friend's basement, and the 40+ member crowd actually devoted their undivided attention to the first three, 3 chord acts. There wasn't a smartphone in sight. Then, like at any hipster event in Portland, the alcohol became more important than the performers, and the drugs began to kick in. Drugs that make you want to dance more than internalize some of the art and narrative of people who are inspired and interested in sharing those things.
I suppose every open mic has its share of shitty skits, and attention driven presentations. And maybe it's my East Coast cynicism that fuels my anger for said shitty acts, undeserving of that empty applause in our "everyone gets a trophy culture". Or in actuality I'm the asshole for having any kind of expectation at an open mic… Either way, I'm sure that's why people who play an instrument, or refine a skill for more than 4 hours a week tend to shy away from open mics leaving that institution for hobbyists and dopamine fiends.