Please silence your cell phones (yes, you!)

You’re so vain; you probably think that announcement asking people to “silence your cell phones” isn’t about you. Or maybe you really thought your ringer was off. Or you assumed no one would call anyway. Regardless, your carelessness or arrogance or laziness just disrupted everyone else’s movie or theatre experience, and most of us hate you for it.

silence your cell phone

I had a friend who worked in a theatre in the 90s who said people would leave their pagers with the box office during the show. Each pager was labeled with the person’s seat number, and if a pager went off an usher would discreetly deliver a note to the owner in order to minimize the disruption to other audience members.

Ah, simpler times!

Now everyone comes to the theatre with ticking timebombs of noisy disruption in their pockets and purses. Despite the preshow announcements someone always fails to turn off their phone. It’s frustrating.

I was recently in New York for work and took the opportunity to see a Broadway show: M. Butterfly. When I was getting a cocktail before the show the bartender explained that all the alcohol and mixers were prechilled because they aren’t allowed to put ice in the drinks because the show is so quiet. I could rest assured that my theatrical experience would not be disturbed but by the gentle sound of ice bumping around inside a cup! You can, however, guess the noise that actually interrupted the performance.

During a quiet moment (because such things only ever seem to happen in quiet moments) a phone rang a few seats away from me. It took a few seconds for the man to realize it was his phone and to take action. And the action he took was simply to silence that call. He still hadn’t silenced his phone as evidenced by the voicemail alert we all heard a minute later.

Yes, it was over quickly, but it was disrespectful to the audience and to the actors, who I’m sure could hear it too. Luckily, that was the only offense during that particular performance, but I’ve been to many plays and movies where multiple phones went off at various times.

Mistakes happen, but please, when you hear that “silence your cell phones” announcement take a moment to double/triple/quadruple check that your ringer is off. And I mean off. Even the vibrate alert can be quite loud, and most of us are not likely to get a message so urgent it can’t wait for an hour or two.

Even better: Try leaving your phone in your car or at home and just enjoy the show like people did in simpler (quieter) times.

RELATED POST: Kevin Williamson throws a cell phone, Twitter responds to a vigilante

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