There is barely a past time more fun yet unpredictable than going to the cinema. Whether you’re going with your family, your friends or a partner of some romantic/sexual kind, going to the cinema is a great activity with something for everyone to enjoy. This has been a popular activity since John P Harris and Harry Davis opened a five-cents admission movie theatre in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania in 1905. Much has changed in the ensuing 112 years with cinemas around the world both independent and corporate cinemas. It’s not a perfect activity: there always the risk the movie you’re seeing is terrible, nothing is cheap and dealing with other members can be a pain for the more introverted or socially anxious. As someone who has worked in two different cinemas, there’s only been one thing that has irritated me as an audience member and a staff member: people who use their phones in the cinema during film screenings.
It was one of the issues that would warrant the most trouble when working as an usher. We’d check the screens every so often to do quick ticket checks and ensure no one had snuck into the wrong movie. We’d also have to make sure that no one was using their mobile phones. It’s a sight that is easy to spot. The moment the glare of the blue light emitting from the mobile phone screen is spotted, I’d quietly go to the culprit and, in a firm whisper, request that they turn their phone off. Usually this would be met with a quick apology but on the odd occasion I’d get some flack from patrons who felt it was their right to have their phone on. This would be despite the advert just before the film started and signs dotted about the cinema that informs everybody that one must turn their phone off. People using their phones during a screening would be a daily occurrence during my usher shifts and kicking people out for not complying with the legal request was one of the dreaded parts of my job.
Several years later and the phone menace hasn’t gone. It’s rather vexing to be sat in the cinema screen trying to watch the film I’ve paid at least £10 to see only to be distracted by the glare of someone’s phone that draws me out of the film watching experience. As a movie goer with hypersensitive senses, every vibration of a text or call when I’m trying to concentrate is like a scratch on a chalk board. There surely can’t be anything that important that you must be glued to Facebook or Twitter. If so, why are you watching the film in the cinema? Why not wait until the film is out when you can watch on DVD or blu ray and keep up with some inevitably benile social media life? There are no circumstances in which I can forsee the necessity of keeping your phone on during a film that can’t be resolved by engaging the cinema staff and planning ahead.
On the off chance that I haven’t been horribly clear, I ask that you please turn your phones off and put them away when you’re seeing a film in the cinema.