There is one thing I think mobile users have done well. We generally turn off our ringers when we go to the movies. Seriously, that’s an impressive thing when you think about it, and we should all feel pretty good about that. Yes, most of that is based on pure peer pressure, admittedly. There is nothing in average-day society that is more humiliating than the rush of realization as your pocket-muffled, yet vibrantly audible ringtone fills the theater. And man, it only gets worse as you’re forced to perform the pocket-pull of shame, adding insult to injury, liberated from your pocket, the phone bursts to full volume, and all eyes have found you with the help of the ungodly bright screen that lit up when you opened the thing.
But that’s never happened to me.
And smart people, which is most of us in this case, remember to turn off the ringer. It does, however bring me to the point of this post -
My in-theater misanthropism has found a new mobile offender, and for once it is not audio related. It’s those people who read sms messages during a movie.
You usually know who he is before the feature starts. He glances at it while the lights are up and everyone is seating. The possibility already sinking in, you scrutinize him, his mannerisms, clothes, who he’s with, all in an effort to privately judge whether he’s one of those. But hey - we all do that while the lights are up, right? And then he does it during the trailers. You’re behind him, but you stare at the back of his head anyway with your laser vision because you like the trailers, and even though your eyes have not completely adjusted to the dark room yet, that phone’s screen was bright enough to counter the sun ten minutes ago. It’s just a trailer you remind yourself. Maybe this is one of those feature-respectful false alarm people. Fine. And then you forget about it as the movie starts and whisks you away.
You’re distracted as he shifts his weight with purpose and immediately sense what’s about to happen - in fact you mentally dare him to. And it’s startlingly bright. I mean, it’s so bright that in that blackened room you see a Doppler Effect. It doesn’t matter that he holds it low, in some feigned effort to be considerate - your pupils just constricted off.
I have learned that you can’t publicly ridicule screen abusers in a theater as you can “ring-holes.” The lack of an original offending sound renders your otherwise audience-gratifying “Turn it off jackass!” unacceptable.
You can however, rest your foot on his chair back. That provides options.