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A Time For Everything

Have you ever had a bad experience with fellow audience members while at the theater (either film or stage)? Of course you have. It's akin to asking a cat owner if they've ever caught their pet sleeping. The manners of our fellow movie and theatre-goers aren't exactly stellar these days, and it has no doubt spurred the increase in home streaming viewership, and home theater systems.

A recent article in The Globe and Mail tackles the the downturn in audience civility with some aplomb, and the following passage resonated quite a bit:

Cameron, who points out that video games now outsell movies and music, was jolted by a recent focus group in which a young man said, “Sitting in the dark unable to talk to my friends either in person or virtually is not my idea of a good time.”

So, should he be allowed to tweet his friends instead? Should he be able to quaff wine and munch nuts? Or take photos to post on Facebook? Is it audiences who need to change their boorish behaviour – or should performing arts institutions change their outdated rules and rituals?
I've actually heard from several young(er) people in recent years that they do not consider going to the movies to be a good idea for a date, because they aren't supposed to talk with one another for two hours. Of course, this ignores the notion of getting to know someone better by having a common viewing session, absorbing what you've watched, and then discussing it with them afterwards. You could learn volumes about a person via this experience.

The issue afflicting theater-going is not confined to environments for the performing arts. Have you noticed how folks are always are on their cell phones these days? I'm guilty of this, as well, but will at least abide by the rules laid down by folks like class instructors, meeting facilitators, and anyone else whose presence I'm in that requests that phones be put away. What I find baffling is that others seem to be incapable of this.

If you only knew, dear reader, the number of times I've heard people -- grown adults, mind you -- who stand defiant in the face of detaching themselves from mobile technology for even just two hours. "I've got kids!" "Someone may need to reach me in an emergency!" I've heard it all.  Thing is, I remember a time before cell phones. Folks seemed to get by ok. Emergencies are fairly rare. And, if one occurs, there are ways to contact people in old-fashioned ways.

Is it really so difficult to be out of remote contact with others for even just a fairly short period of time? Must we check for texts every few minutes? Do we have to Tweet things constantly? Check Facebook every five seconds? Can we not sit amiably next to someone we know and not speak for a couple of hours? If, as a society, we're answering "yes" to the aforementioned questions, then perhaps it's time to pause and reflect.


  1. I agree with you, and am downright curmudgeony in some situations: NO PHONES AT THE TABLE. If I bust my hump to prepare a meal, you (I mean, THEY) can put their damned phones away for the 20 minutes they shove it down their face. That goes for texting AND ringing. As you said, emergencies rarely happen.

    That said, when my son was deployed, everyone in my vicinity had direct orders to get to my telephone if I stepped away from it. I mean, dump my purse out on my desk if I had left it, find the phone, and ANSWER IT!

    That's different. ;-)

    1. woo hoo no phones at the damn dinner table +1 to that :-)

  2. Ugh.. you should already know my position on this crap. It always bothers me when people can't put the phones away just for a couple hours for a show. To me, that tells me you'd rather not be at the show. Your attention certainly isn't on the show. smh...

  3. I actually left my cell phone home today..and I have to say it was nice to have a day without it. I am with you, Matt--at a concert, a movie, dinner or drinks with friends, or a family event--you must put away the technology. This just points out again that technology has become a very poor substitute for human interaction and the inability to enjoy an experience like a good movie. I heard today that 1/2 of the people between 25-29 have reported they haven't had a date in two years or more. I wonder why...

  4. Yep - we are wired just like the Matrix. Can't step away from technology, social networking, and everything in between for even a few minutes without getting the itch. Going Camping or on an adventure where no cell service or internet connections exist is a super fantastic way to disconnect. It feels good every now and then. ;-)

  5. While I will admit that I feel naked if I leave the house without my iphone. People should shut off their damn phones during the movie.

    Also you left out that the movies are a good place for making out on a date. Well at least that was the case when I was a teenager lol

    Hey thanks for stopping by and checking out our blog.

  6. Wow! Thank you for all the comments! You make some good points, especially Lori. Someone in your position would be an obvious exception to this particularly pet peeve. Most folks don't have such a valid excuse.


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