Radical Civility Works! A Report From the Front
Can the simple act of asking someone to put away her cell phone in a movie theater actually work? Yes, if the experience that a reader named Ann had is any indication. Ann sent me this e-mail:
I just wanted to thank you for addressing the issue of texting and cell phone use during movies.
I went to a movie tonight only to have the lady in front of me shine her cell phone in my eyes three times. The third time I leaned forward and told her "That's really bright." Okay, so she and her husband didn't like it and gave me dirty looks at the end of the movie when the lights came on but she didn't pull her cell phone out again for the rest of the film.
I complained to the theater manager as I was leaving that they need to do more to stop that. In the course of the conversation he mentioned the ushers aren't allowed to use flashlights anymore. I asked why. Seems too many people were complaining about the light distracting them. I wonder if these same people are the ones using their cell phones and texting during movies.
IKeep up the good work!
Thanks, Ann. Two things strike me about Ann's experience. First, all she had to say was "That's really bright" and the rude texter stopped. That's a briefer message even than the one I recommend: "Excuse me, the light from your cellphone is very distracting. Can you turn it off please?"
Second, who knew that ushers gave up their flashlights? And for precisely the reason so many of us are annoyed by movie-texters. Or perhaps ushers don't need flashlights anymore, since they can navigate by the light of the various cellphones, like glowing buoys strung out along a rocky shore.
Here's something that would be helpful for me: Please pass on your recent movie experiences by leaving a comment here. I'd like to assemble an unscientific report card of what the moviegoing experience is like in various theaters around Washington. Perhaps over time we'll see an improvement.
Of course, the theater wasn't very crowded. Maybe people stayed away because they were afraid there'd be texting. Or maybe it was the movie. (We enjoyed it, but it's definitely a Netflix candidate.)
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