Phones distract and annoy at films, concerts

Have you ever tried enjoying a music show or movie in the theater only to find yourself distracted by the bright lights of people texting? I’ve had enough. Here’s a thought—turn your mobile devices off at venues and just enjoy the show.

Last Saturday, I went to see the Irish singer, songwriter and Academy Award-winning Glen Hansard at the Michigan Theater in Ann Arbor. It was sold out, as Hansard has quite a following. The show was great, but all throughout it I found myself peering into large LED screens watching stubby thumbs and skinny fingers dance across the keypads doing their own versions of an Irish Jig.

Luckily, Hansard’s passion and performance were enough to drown out the distraction, to a point, but I still wondered why someone would pay $50 just to sit in the dark and text away. Did the people in front of me want their friends to know they were at a cool show, thus making them cool? Were they bored? They couldn’t have been bored because Hansard’s voice had the theater vibrating. Whatever the reason, it wasn’t good enough to distract others in the audience from the show.

Brian Hunter, program manager for the Michigan Theater, doesn’t approve of using mobile devices during shows.

“It’s just rude to the people around you who are there to enjoy the entertainment,” he said.

Most theaters ban the use of mobile devices during the show. Goodrich Quality 16 Theater in Ann Arbor requires viewers turn their phones off. This all sounds like common courtesy, and it is, but many people still find themselves drawn to inform the world where they are at, at that very moment.

Hunter suggested if someone in the audience persists on using their devices during the show, simply alert an usher to the situation. It’s a clash of cultures, though, narcissistic self-absorbed individuals vs. those in the audience actually there to enjoy the show.

Hopefully our venues adopt the attitude the Alamo Draft House Theater in Austin, Texas has taken. According to their website, “We have zero tolerance for talking or cell phone use of any kind during movies, and we aren’t afraid to kick anyone rude enough to start texting their friends during a show right out of the theater.”

When someone breaks out their cell phone at a show, I say, “Remember the Alamo!”

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