At one point or another, all of us have been part of an audience that also contains one person who apparently missed the memo that they are part of an audience and just starts chatting away on their phone or checking on on Facebook while it’s pretty clear there is a play or movie happening right in the very theater they are sitting in. Plenty of us have wanted to just grab that person’s phone and throw it across the room, because it seems like the only rational response to a world gone mad, or at least exceedingly rude.
Last night, National Review Online writer Kevin Williamson lived out our collective dreams and did exactly that, tossing the phone of a fellow audience member into the wings of a small outdoor theater. Part of us wants to call Williamson a hero, but polity brings us up short on that point. The cure for rudeness shouldn’t be more rudeness, and grabbing someone’s phone is likely to land you in some legal trouble or a fistfight, depending on the demeanor of the person whose phone you just threw. It’s just bad behavior all the way around, and though it’s tempting to, we can’t condone any of it.
To avoid future unpleasantness, we’ve taken the liberty of putting together this brief guide to when it’s okay to use a cell phone — or any of our other legions of digital devices — when you’re in a theater:
Has the event you’re attending specifically encouraged you to use your cell phone during the performance to engage with other interactive elements of the show, build publicity around it, or for some other reason? If this is the case, great, go wild using your cell phone in a theater and enjoy the show.
Now, with that fairly recent development out of the way, is it fine to use your phone, tablet, 3DS etc. while you are in the audience of a play or movie at any other time?
“Not even real quick? Like, I just want to see what time it is and if anyone’s commented on the picture I posted of my lunch, because it was a very good lunch.”
Nope. Not okay.
Once more, for the folks in the cheap seats: DO NOT USE YOUR DIGITAL DEVICE IN THE THEATER. It makes everyone else in the audience so furious that we want to grab it and do this.
Some of us will even do it, too.
And when they do, everyone else in the audience is doing this in their heads.
So please, don’t use your phone in the theater. Then we can all get along and have a great time together.
- Sometimes this is okay, but the theater will expressly tell you if that’s the case
- Personally? I’m not on board with Tweet Seats, but they’re a thing that is now
- These falcons know just how to shut down cell phone service