Are we really back to this again? Is it really necessary to have this discussion again?
Recently, a preview performance of A Steady Rain was interrupted by a ringing cell phone. Here's the article which includes video, no doubt taken (illegally) by another person with a cell phone.
What is the deal here, people? Honestly? Do you remember in the old days (like, ten years ago) when you went to see a play or a movie and someone wanted to call you, your phone would ring . . . AT HOME. The answering machine would pick up and the caller would either leave you a message or decide that it wasn't really all that important that Aunt Beatrice spilled grape juice on her muumuu and just wait to tell you the next time they saw you.
Forget for a moment (but not for more than a moment) that cell phone use while driving has made people into even worse drivers. (Yes, it has. I've been behind you.)
Forget that quiet coffee houses and libraries (LI-BRAR-IES) are now inundated by technocratic tools loudly explaining the details of their latest prostate exam (which could no doubt only be performed after first dislodging their heads) to some poor sap who is trying to negotiate 5:00 I-25 traffic going, "uh-huh, uh-huh, really? just how cold are we talking here?"
I have said before that I find it increasingly difficult to enjoy a movie anymore for the multitude of little blue text screens shining throughout the theatre, and the woman trying to quietly explain the plot of the movie into her phone (no doubt to somebody on I-70), not to mention the jarring sound coming from the pocket of the guy two seats over who had put his phone on "vibrate" then put it in the same pocket as his keys and collection of buffalo-head nickels.
I went into a movie theatre for the first time in months just last week. It was a showing of Rashomon at the Starz Film Center. Do you know where my phone was? In my car.
I like to tweet as much as anybody (okay not as much as John Mayer and Brent Spiner, but you know what I mean.) I sent a tweet from the Aurora Fox last night when I went to see Paragon's Miscast. I sent it during intermission. Then, I turned my phone back OFF and walked down the stairs to have a wonderful conversation with an aspiring playwright for the remainder of the break.
It's not that hard, and if there is something pressing enough that you can't risk missing a call, do what we did back in the olden times (the 90's). Stay home, and give the tickets to someone who doesn't have a pending emergency.
What I find the most perplexing is that activities that once were performed in noncommunicative silence (grocery shopping, watching a movie or a play, driving to work, pumping gas) now suddenly need to be filled with conversation. Is there really that much more that needs to be talked about that wasn't there fifteen years ago? Or, is it more likely that we are so seduced by this new technology that we now prioritize insignificant minutiae in order to have something to talk or text about into these little devices that now own us. (That receipt from the Apple store is just there to let you think that you're in charge. You're not as free as you think, Pseudolus.)
So what do we embrace to fill the space? Gossip. Look around you. What's on the magazine covers? What were the subjects of your last ten phone conversations? How many of them, if not wholly insignificant and pointless, contained gossip?
I don't want to moralize too much here. The world is getting smaller. Secrets and privacy are becoming more and more a thing of the past. It's inevitable.
I do think, however, that it's being hurried along by that little square thing on your. . . oh, what? No, go ahead and answer it.