I’ve picked up the funny little hobby of going to the movies by myself. I can see whatever I want (no matter how terrible) and I don’t have to share the popcorn. Last night, I went to see Gravity. It’s entertaining and just the escape I was looking for at the end of the weekend. After I carefully selected my seat, a group of young guys sat in the row just in front of me. One of them was texting.
We were still in the previews/commercial section and the feature film hadn’t begun, but I had my eye on Mr. Texty. I was already annoyed with his movie theater behavior. The movie started and he put the phone away, so I stopped composing all the ways (polite and decidedly not polite) I was thinking of telling him to turn it off.
About half an hour into the movie, he pulled his phone out again.
I was behind him and to the right, so I could plainly see as he checked his email (Yahoo) and texted with someone. I learned that I have the capacity for what, in some, manifests itself as road rage. For me, it’s movie rage. I mean, I shelled out eleven bucks for my entertainment. (I didn’t spring for 3-D; I rarely do). I didn’t want to put up with this guy and his phone habit. I calmed myself down and leaned forward, whispering loudly, “Would you please put your phone away?”
He jumped. And the phone disappeared. It didn’t make an appearance again and I quit seething in time. But I wondered, what is it that makes people ignore conventions like that? Do they know what impact they have on the people around them?
Earlier in the week I found myself needing some medical attention in the short term, and had the delightful experience of hanging around an Urgent Care waiting room for two hours. In this situation as well, it’s posted pretty clearly: Please turn off your cell phone. I, like most people, take this to mean don’t talk on your phone. I think checking e-mail and the like on a smartphone while in a waiting room may be the only way you keep your job and your sanity, so I approve. But I was surprised at the number of people who, HIPPA be damned, talked away on their phones, within earshot of 20 other would-be patients, freely giving away all manner of personal data.
What are these people thinking?
Maybe it’s because I’m a slightly older technology adopter. I still respect down time. I still unplug. I still reserve the right to NOT check my phone every five minutes and to sleep at night without waking up to check e-mail. And I reserve the right to, when it’s posted, and someone’s ignoring it, point out that we’re being asked to pay attention.