Gary Conkling Life Notes

Mostly whimsical reflections on life

Texting at the Movies

Texting at movies doesn’t bother me much because we don’t go to many movies. If we did, it would bug me if someone was pecking away on their smartphone while I was trying to lose myself in a movie plot.

texting-movieTexting at the movies has the same annoying impact of someone rattling their popcorn bag incessantly. My idea of a complete experience in a movie theater doesn’t include the grating sound of a popcorn bag.

Uncontrolled texting and a cacophony of rustling popcorn bags makes my mind wander to how much used gum is stuck under my seat and where someone carelessly spilled Pepsi. Before long, I’ve lost track of the movie and see myself trapped in some kind of junk food hell.

Of course, watching a movie from the comfort of your own sofa isn’t always a dream, either. The phone rings. A neighbor drops by to ask to borrow your rake. The dog suddenly has to go out.

Pause ButtonBut watching a movie at home means you have the ultimate weapon to combat annoyance and interruption – a pause button. Need to hit the head? No problem. Just hit pause on the remote control. Running short in the beverage department. Steps away. Forgot to pay your Visa bill? Punch pause, whip out your laptop and pay it online.

A pause button is powerless, however, to prevent popcorn, potato chip or pepperoni stick noises in the family room. Depending on the behaviors of your cohabitants, you still may need to fear the sticky dilemma of gum on your seat or a Pepsi splattering onto your brand new khakis. These are life traumas that defy space, time and family loyalties.

You go to the movie theater for the experience. A special date. To watch an epic movie that fills the big screen. To escape the lingering stink in your house because you forgot to take out the garbage stuffed with fish wrappings. These are wonderful moments that shouldn’t be despoiled by narcissistic and unnecessary texting.

grandparents_grandkids_movie_theater_HGrandchildren are our usual reason for going to the movies. These outings typically involve watching an animated movie with high-priced, recognizable voice talents. It also inevitably involves grandkids crinkling of popcorn, oozing of Pepsi and unspeakably gooey candy. We smile because this is about being with our grandkids. It doesn’t mean the popcorn bags rankle less; it just means we took valium before heading to the theater.

With this limited perspective of movies at movie theaters, we haven’t built up a serious huff about texters. In many ways, subconsciously worrying about popcorn rattling, gum on our butts and overdosing on valium blocks out fretting about a little random texting.

Sure, I might be blinded by the sudden flash of light for a smartphone that obscures a key scene in the movie, but I can live with that if I still have a clear path to the potty and no gum on my toosh.

AMC Theaters is toying with the idea of lifting its ban on texting during movies, or at least some movies. Maybe really bad movies that nobody is watching anyway.

All this begs the question of why someone, even someone exploding with hormones, feels the urgent need to tap a few unintelligible words or abbreviations in the middle of a movie. These people aren’t movie critics on deadline. They are either bored or addicted to texting. They may need treatment, not indulgence.

Unless somebody writes about what happens, I won’t know whether or not the texting ban has been lifted at movie houses. I won’t be there to take first-hand stock of the situation. I will be home with my wife and dog watching movies on Netflix with no clattering except for our neighbor and his power tools. If we decide to text during the show, who will know.

Drive-in MovieAnd for a little historical perspective, the big worry about going to the movies used to be kids in the balcony or the drive-in making out. In that context, maybe teenagers texting isn’t such a bad alternative.



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