(Article first appeared in The Age, Sydney Morning Herald and WA Today on Friday, May 3)
If you’re at the movies and you’re on the phone, I can see you. Same goes for a comedy show, the theatre and if you hold it up at a concert or music gig or any live performance to capture a bit of anything, then I can see that too. Along with plenty of other people, and we’re all annoyed.
Smartphones should be banned from all those events. You don’t need them, they wreck the experience for yourself and others, and most importantly, you don’t need them. You think you do, but you don’t.
If you’re worried that your wife might go into labour, then you shouldn’t be at the movies, you prick. If you’re waiting to hear from someone about a job, or an appointment, or a date, then don’t go to the movies.
What if there’s an emergency? Well, are you a doctor? Do you drive an ambulance? Are you in a position to do anything about it? No, you’re not. However there are plenty of people who are, and they all have mobile phones.
There was a time before everyone had a mobile phone. People coped. Give it a try.
If I’m at the movies and something horrible as happened, I would much rather find out afterwards. That sounds horrible, but what have you gained by hearing that bad news an hour earlier? You’ve just lost the possible joy from that movie. Unless the movie is terrible, then that’s a true tragedy. Especially when all those millions could have been spent on another Smurfs sequel, or another Astroboy. I’m serious.
When you’re at an event, don’t just turn your phone to silent. If you know it’s ringing, you’re going to answer it. Which you shouldn’t. If you answer your phone, it’s even more annoying than just having the stupid thing on.
Actually, instead of turning it off you should be made to hand them over at the entrance, and then walk through a smartphone detector. If you’ve failed to hand it over and you’re caught, it gets smashed. If you make it past the detection system and are caught using it, then it’s smashed. If you’ve got a cover featuring anything shiny or that looks like a cassette, then it gets smashed. Okay, so that’s a bit harsh but you do need a different cover. My cover features a three dimensional hologram of sharks. It’s amazing.
Using your smartphone while you’re at any event, you’re not just ruining it for others, you’re ruining it for yourself. That moment where you check your email, send a text, take a photo, make a call, you’re giving in to your inability to concentrate for more than a moment. As a society we’re losing our ability to concentrate on anything for longer than an ad break, and by giving in to this tick, you’re further destroying your concentration span and moving one step closer to being a goldfish.
By removing the phone and the temptation, I’m doing you a big favour. You’re forced to concentrate on whatever it is you’ve paid to witness. You’ll have a better time, I guarantee it, and sometime in the future you might even read a whole book. Wow. Seriously, books are amazing. Get into it.
Maybe you don’t want to be at the event? Then leave. Maybe you can’t leave? Deal with it. By being on your phone the whole time, everyone is painfully aware of how much you don’t want to be there. Unless they’re busy on their phones as well. Then you need new friends.
‘But Xavier, if I can’t use my smartphone, how am I going to tell everyone what a great time I’m having?’
Who cares? Instead of telling everyone about what a great time you’re having, what about you just concentrate on having a great time? That way, you won’t miss anything. You bought the ticket for you, not for them. Tell them later, face to face. Some people still communicate like that, in person. On a side note, a lot of things are more satisfying in person. Like Scrabble. What were you thinking of? I was thinking of sex.
The security checkpoint thing and smashing phones possibly isn’t practical. As an alternative, we could just start ejecting anyone caught using their phone during any performance. You know the rules, break them at your own peril. No excuses.
Better yet, let’s start a movement. Where people choose to go out, but leave their phones at home. Let’s call it ‘No Phones More Fun’. I really like that idea. I’m going to Tweet/Facebook/Text all about it right now. Using my smartphone. Ah… damn.
Xavier Toby (www.xaviertoby.com) is a writer and comedian currently touring the comedy walking tour ‘2013 – When We Were Idiots’ at the:
Sydney Comedy Festival (May 7-11)
Brisbane Anywhere Theatre Festival (May 12-19)