Radical Civility: A Crisis of Faith
I saw "District 9" over the weekend--a Friday matinee, actually (ah, the perks of being a columnist).
The movie was great, but I'm afraid I have a confession to make: There was a man texting in front of me and I didn't do anything.
Here I am supposedly leading this charge to get people to police their behavior -- a movement that depends on the radically civil amongst us politely pointing out to miscreants that their actions are annoying -- and I couldn't even bring myself to say anything.
Can you ever forgive me?
I've given this some thought over the last few days in an attempt to understand my actions -- or lack thereof. Here are some of the possible explanations -- not excuses -- that I've come up with:
I was afraid of physical violence. Doesn't really apply. The guy wasn't that big and he was by himself. I didn't pick up any threatening vibes from him.
I was too embarrassed to say anything. I'm basically a shy person. Really I am.
I was alone. We often get strength from others. If I'd been with a group of people, perhaps I would have felt emboldened to confront the man.
My Lovely Wife wasn't with me. Going somewhere with my wife is sort of like being in the company of a Mafia enforcer: There are times when you're worried things might escalate, but it's often nice to have a bit of muscle. I'm sure she would have said something. Perhaps living with her these past 20-plus years has caused certain of my, um, attributes to atrophy. I'm so accustomed to her intervening that I no longer have the skills.
I wasn't that bothered by him. There's a little truth in this. I wasn't watching a subtle tear-jerker of a movie but a sci-fi shoot 'em up. Still, I should have said something, especially since I spent much of the film obsessing about the exact conversation that we're having now, knowing that I would have to confess to you.
Does this call into question the entire concept of Radical Civility? I hope not. I promise to do better next time. I also noted that the theater -- the Majestic in Silver Spring -- did not screen an anti-texting message before the feature started, nor did it have any anti-texting signage outside each theater, as I saw at a theater in South Carolina.
But that's just shifting the responsibility to someone else. I do think that theater managers should be the front line of defense, but the battle must include polite protestations by us.
Your thoughts? Have you been in my situation? Do you always step up to the plate or do you sometimes link into the dugout?
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