Saturday 29 September 2012

Who Do They Need To Text?

Is it really how we are now, as humans, that we can't watch a movie for 93 minutes without needing to text and tweet?

Why are you going to the cinema? What are you in there for? Is it not for the experience of indulging in something entertaining, or educational or at least, something to take you away from your life for an hour or two?

Maybe I'm missing something. Maybe the whole point of going to the cinema is to text people and read Facebook news feeds, but I don't think it is. So what's the deal?

The dude next to me today at the screening of 'The Lottery of Birth', got a text message about twenty minutes into the film. It beeped loudly, of course. He took out the phone and then began texting.

Then the other person text him back.

So the guy and his distant friend continued texting again and again. Tap tap tap click click and again and again. I was lenient at first, after all, it could be an emergency. "Help!!! My house is on fire so I'm texting you!!!!!!!!", but again, I doubt it.

Tap tap click tap beeep vrrrrmmm tap tap, I couldn't take it anymore. I asked him to stop. And to be honest, the guy was nice about it. He seemed genuinely apologetic yet also completely unaware that the bright sparkly lights from his phone and the tap tap tapping could be distracting.

The phone continued to vibrate. And a few times he coughed and 'accidentally' pressed the button on his phone, enabling him to have a sneaky peak at his messages.

I understand his problem. The incoming text promises much excitement. Also, he might be newly in love and texting the girl of his dreams. Perhaps they fell in love due to a mutual love for pressing thumbs against smartphone screens.

But is this what we're becoming now? Is there any moment in daily life when we put the phones down and experience something? I'm surprised he didn't take a picture of me and tag it on Facebook, "me and anti-phone dude".

I can see how the guy who wants no distractions in the cinema annoys people as much as the distractioner himself, but I'm at a film festival! This film has three screenings in London then we may never see it in the UK again. Surely it's worth watching, worth giving yourself over to what's on screen for a couple of hours?

I see these people ignoring important moments, missing out on subtitles, half-laughing at funny bits to keep up with the audience who are laughing---- it's crazy, why not watch the movie! Of course, the knock on effect is that I miss the movie too, because I'm so caught up it what the phone-people are doing.

I've done it myself, I guess that's why I'm so sensitive to it. We all text and tweet as if it's a temporary hobby, we check texts while under the illusion that we-just-have-to-check-the-next-one-because-it's-super-interesting.

Text messages are never super interesting. They're never anything. They're just a distraction from being in the moment, from having an experience.

But this is our lives. People need to realise it's all a conspiracy, another way it which we've been numbed and dumbed. We're subservient to small black portable devices. Why are people so comfortable with becoming so insane?

You're missing movies. Missing conversations with the people in front of you. Missing the whole world while you tap tap tap vrrrrrmmmm beep. And worse than all that, you're driving me crazy!

Care to share?


  1. Tbh it's why I don't go to the cinema anymore unless it's a real 'must see on the big screen' film or one that won't appeal to the teenage market (not saying they are better or worse but generally, being the mother of one, they are stuck to their phones). We saw one film where two teenage girls along the row from us giggled, chatted, texted, facebooked. My eldest daughter asked them politely to stop which they did for a while then resumed. When the film finished they waited for us outside the auditorium to abuse us. Fortunately for us and unfortunately for them they picked on the wrong lady and got short shift from me. But it's just an epidemic of rudeness and I think the cinemas should do more to be proactive and police it better.

    1. It really does spoil the experience. But what can a cinema do? If they're constantly going into the audience (and it would be constant) trying to stop people, that would be just as disruptive.

      It comes down to the individuals -- it's a free world, they're making the choice to go to the cinema. But why? Why pay to sit in a dark room and text people? It's baffling, and frustrating.

  2. Hiya Kid Tx for this tale. I'm fascinated--
    By coincidence just this weekend I was reading the manuscript of a short story about something very similar. But I've never yet sat in a cinema and been aware of people around me texting (though once someone along the row was recording bits of the movie). Has this trend reached everywhere but New Zealand? I'd love to know-- I think if I DO have an experience similar to yours I may become violent, i.e. snatch the phone from my neighbour's hand and fling it towards the nearest wall--

  3. It still baffles me that people do this. It's pretty much instinct for me at this point, when I'm in the theater, that as soon as the lights dim I turn off my phone.

  4. We are lucky here in Austin, Texas. There is a Theather chain known as the Alamo Drafthouse where they have taking watching movies to a whole new different level. The theather is decorated with posters of classic cult movies. They don't show commercials, only clips from movies or funny videos that have similar themes of the movie you are about to watch. Meanwhile a waitress takes your order of specialty food like Pizza or fries, wine, etc... But best of all, they strictly enforce a no calling or textphone rule. If you violate the rule you are escorted out of the theather without a refund. It's a film lovers paradise!

    1. I wish I lived in Texas, because that theatre sounds like movie watching heaven!

  5. I saw Spider-Man this year and there was a girl playing games on her phone. It was maddening. Like you say, why are they even there?

    But this was nothing compared to this week, when a guy started chain smoking, listening to his headphones and chatting to his friends. In a cinema!!