Cell phones: a diatribe

Cell phones are evil, needy things. The people who own them are yoked to them like oxen that jump and twitch at every beep and tinny muffled pop song that constitutes the ring tone.

Please don’t get me wrong. I am not a neo-Luddite. I am not composing this diatribe on some ancient typewriter in a cabin deep in the Idaho wilderness. In fact, I think for the most part, technological advances are highly beneficial to our society. Cell phones are great for emergency situations. They allow things to happen much more quickly. You can call a tow truck from the side of the highway. You can dial 911 if you witness a robbery. These are good things.

Nevertheless, I take issue with those individuals who feel that it’s OK to have a loud telephone conversation on the bus, talking about dogs and guns and seeding the dialogue liberally with the word “fuckin’.” I also take issue with those individuals who have conspicuous public arguments over cell phones. Look, as entertaining as it is, I don’t need to know who your boyfriend slept with to make you decide to destroy all his mint condition Foreigner records. I am beginning to think that radiation from cell phones is causing an epidemic of stupidity amongst those who use them. The people I cannot stand, who I have absolutely no patience for at all, are those people who bring their cell phones to the theater.

I’d like to explain something to these people. The whole reason that movies and performances are so important to us is because they allow us to escape. They allow us to get away from our everyday lives and be transported somewhere else, if just for an hour or two. That is the whole point. When you bring your phone to the theater you are dragging the whole damn world with you to your seat. That’s not so bad, but inevitably in all the hubbub you will forget to turn the thing off. I know this is true because about 80 percent of the performances and movies I attended in the last year have been interrupted by a cell phone.

Why, for the love of everything that’s sacred and holy, would you make your fellow audience members listen to a shitty version of the “William Tell Overture” while you fumble through the depths of your purse or pocket trying to find your phone? When you finally extricate the thing, the ring is even louder because it’s no longer muffled. Then, your fellow audience members have to wait as, in your panic, you press every fucking button trying to get it to stop. You know that little sound your phone makes to let you know that it’s finally off? That sound is saying that you are an absolute brainless idiot and trust me when I say, your fellow audience members agree. And don’t think you’re off the hook because you were only text messaging. Look, those little screens are really bright and when you flip them open to text someone, “Im n the movi,” it is a distraction for those behind you. You might as well shine a flashlight in their eyes, dumbass.

Here’s the thing: The theater is a palace. It is a sacred place. You may have your church or synagogue or mosque, but I worship in the first balcony. You wouldn’t let your cell phone interrupt a church service, right? I have a simple solution. Leave your cell phone at home or in the car. Let’s be honest, there is no way that you are so important that the world cannot live without you for an hour or two. I know that you’re probably the excitable type that has to immediately tell all of your little friends about what you have just seen, but why not allow yourself to form some intelligent opinions on the short walk to the car or the drive back home.

For those who do not bring cell phones to the theater and who believe, like me, that they are capable of destroying a perfectly good evening’s entertainment: Please, join me in publicly humiliating these inconsiderate people. The time for being nice is over. These people will never learn, until we approach them after the performance and loudly demand that they reimburse us for the cost of the ticket. This will not stop until cell phone jammers are installed in the theaters. It must end.

I do not mind technology so much, it’s just that we tend to place it in the hands of idiots. Please, please, please think a bit before you go to the show. Leave that terrible little cell phone behind. Allow yourself to be transported, whisked away from the world, entertained.


P.A. Coleman would like it to be noted that he does not have a cell phone and has no plans to purchase one in the future.