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Tuesday, June 7th, 2011 04:03 pm
So, I've been seeing this thing about texting in theaters being forwarded all around, and I'm responding very negatively to it and the kind of attention it has received. I'm not exactly sure why, but it really raises my blood pressure. It feels very ugly to me. (Note, the specifics of this incident do not interest me much, as little of the commentary praising it have had any knowledge of it either. I'm addressing just the response here.)

Partly, I just can't imagine why anyone would care that much about someone texting. Particularly in a theater that serves food! If you were so concerned about avoiding distractions, why would you be there in the first place? But even besides that fact, is texting really that much more distracting than the occasional whisper or giggle? It strikes me as a weird hissy fit, to want to watch a movie in public and then get all bent out of shape when the environment is slightly out of your control. Adults should be able to deal with that. I worry that we're developing a counterpart to "family friendly" in even explicitly adult areas that is equally stiffling and restrictive, like we can barely stand to be in public at all, but if we must then it had better be micromanaged down to the smallest detail.

Partly, it reminds me of the tedious and lingering anti-cellphone populism of the turn of the century. Now it's part of a larger reaction against people being connected all the time. Which I guess annoys some people? Multitasking is a survival trait now, so get used to it. Being network connected makes me better. I'm smarter, faster at accomplishing goals, I have a better memory, I'm more social. So I take it poorly when someone wants in any way to shut that down because of vague politeness concerns. Can it be done rudely? Sure! That's no reason for a blanket ban. Maybe the lowest brightness settings on phones could stand to be even lower. Mine certainly could, and I'd welcome that change. (On my Nexus One, the Kindle app can actually take the screen darker than the system settings can. Weird.) But I'm getting really sick of seeing self-righteous complaints about "are things online really that much more interesting than real life". Well, yes, often they are, because online is THE ENTIRE REST OF THE WORLD. If the fact that ALL OF HUMAN EXPERIENCE is sometimes more interesting than making smalltalk with you, I don't think the problem here is with me. You'v

Partly, so much of the commentary is focusing on the caller's word choice. The undertones of classism are really unpleasant. And, of course, lots of misogyny coming out of the woodwork as well.

I dunno. My reaction is obviously emotional, but so is everyone else's. I'm pretty comfortable not being on the side of the "yeah, fuck that bitch!" internet patrol.
yam: (Default)
[personal profile] yam
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 12:15 am (UTC)
I was confused too when I saw that she was kicked out not for talking loudly, but for texting. Like, wait, isn't that the _polite alternative_ to being a jackass with a phone?

A few years ago I got a text message during a movie that allowed us to discreetly leave the show and go see my husband's father in the emergency room, after his horrible industrial accident where no one was sure if he would live or die. We got to comfort his wife and be with him in the ICU, thanks to the ubiquitous connectedness it is now possible to enjoy. If the momentary flicker of my phone's screen or me rustling my coat disturbed someone, I'm not particularly remorseful. It's just a movie. That people were willingly watching in a theatre with a hundred other human beings.
tim: Tim with short hair, smiling, wearing a black jacket over a white T-shirt (Default)
[personal profile] tim
Wednesday, June 8th, 2011 02:44 pm (UTC)
I'm suspicious of the 'adults should be able to deal with this' line of reasoning here. Who gets to decide how much distraction adults *should* be able to tolerate? It sounds like the 'you're just being oversensitive' derailing tactic: evading accountability for one's actions by shifting the blame onto they who have obviously failed as a person for not being able to tolerate. It's a content-free argument because it can be used to justify any anti-social behavior: if your face wasn't so sensitive, you wouldn't mind when it gets in the way of my fist.

And the rare emergency doesn't justify it in general, any more than the existence of people who physically can't walk justifies driving one's car a quarter mile to the grocery store to pick up milk.
Thursday, June 9th, 2011 02:23 am (UTC)
something else occurs to me: the distraction of someone talking during a movie is well known and understood. But people shining lights during a film is a different category of distraction. It has little to do with someone communicating outside the room, more with my eyes being pulled away from the screen, reminding me I'm in a movie theater after all. (this whole thing with serving food while watching a film seems pretty weird anyway.)

Peer pressure is really the only way to get people to change their habits in public spaces, if it's just the manegement that doesn't like it, not that many people are going to care.