Turn Off Your Phone When You Go to the Movies, Seriously

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In this new year, one of the best resolutions you can make is to be more aware of your cell phone usage. I don’t mean be aware of how much data you use. No, I mean don’t be cellphone rude. I’ve written, and preached about my struggle to set better boundaries with my cell phone. It is an uphill battle for me (as Elana will readily affirm), but I am trying. One thing is for sure — when I go to the movies I not only put my phone away, but I turn it off. You should too.

I’m reminded of this because of the story my friend just told me. Imagine this, it was 1:30 on Christmas Day. She was in Manhattan and went to see the movie Amour. The movie’s synopsis includes

Georges and Anne are in their eighties. They are cultivated, retired music teachers. Their daughter, who is also a musician, lives abroad with her family. One day, Anne has an attack. The couple’s bond of love is severely tested.

Sounds like a light-hearted film right? Not. My friend described it as an emotional roller coaster that, in and of itself, tugged at the heart. When combined with the memories it raised of her deceased mother the movie was, for her and others, truly draining.

The movie was approaching its crescendo. The emotions were heightened. My friend and others were holding their breath when… the woman next to her began speaking on her cell phone.

Yes, at the moment when everything had come to a head in the movie, the woman answered a call and started speaking. Without realizing it my friend gently pressed her elbow into the woman. While it certainly wasn’t the best response, it wasn’t a conscious or aggressive move either. It was the sort of thing you would do and not even think about with a friend. A simple… “shhhhhh”. The woman’s response? “Get your hands off of me you B&*^%^”, and she went on speaking.

After the movie, my friend went to apologize. The woman began shaking, yelled the same thing she had previously said and kept ranting. My friend walked away.

Don’t be like the lady at the movie. When you go see a show, shut your phone off. You’ll enjoy the movie, you won’t disrupt others, and you won’t find yourself getting a (well-deserved but unconscious) elbow in the side.

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.

6 Comments on "Turn Off Your Phone When You Go to the Movies, Seriously"

  1. This is why I love Austin’s Alamo Drafthouse chain of theaters; they aggressively don’t allow texting or talking. Every movie have a brief PSA at the beginning that says, in essence, “If you talk or text, we’ll toss you out, no refund, after the first warning.” But the thing is, Alamo Drafthouse has in-seat waitrons, so it’s easy to complain, right? At most movie theaters, you’d have to leave the movie and go to the lobby.

    I’ve read they’re going to open an Alamo Drafthouse in NYC sometime this year. Maybe you’ll get a chance to see for yourself, Dan!

  2. Once there was a guy sitting in front and to the right of us who kept talking on his phone through a large chunk of the movie, even after I asked him to stop several times. I think we ended up moving back a few rows to get away from him. C’mon, people, the least you could do would be to knock it off when someone calls you on it.

  3. That lady is lucky all she got was a gentle elbow in her side. I’d probably have reached over and tapped the end button for her myself to hang it up!

  4. I LOVE the fact that SHE had the nerve to get indignant.

  5. I’m with you on that one …

  6. The time I went to see Ironman in the theatre, and there was a group of teenagers (about 6 boys and 6 girls) that literally roamed the theatre during the movie and texted each other constantly during the movie. They kept getting up and moving. The theatre was less than half full, but still, when you go to see a movie, STFU and sit still.

    I walk with a cane, and I was seriously considering using the cane to block the aisle since they kept wanting to push past me. (I was sitting on the end, they had the rest of the row and the other end, and still kept walking in front of me)

    I ended up waiting for Ironman to be released onto dvd before I actually got to watch AND enjoy the movie. I think I probably would have preferred a crying baby in that theatre rather than a gang of roaming teenagers. At least a crying baby isnt flashing cellphone lights all over the place.

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