My Husband and I recently went to see the Broadway show Moulin Rouge. (It’s a fun show, with popular music throughout, and it’s just an easy, enjoyable night at the theater)

You may not be aware, but Broadway theater is not necessarily cheap. While you can sometimes get lottery or rush tickets, which will be about 30$, this is not the norm. The cheapest seats you can normally find start at 49$ for the back rows of the highest level. Seats in the orchestra can run over 200$ a seat. When I go to the theater, I’m looking for special deals or flash sales, or I have a subscription to a theater company, which gives you tickets at a discount. But however you look at it- not cheap.

But anyway.

Moulin Rouge- which I got as a special no fee deal, but still we were in about the fifth row mezzanine. And it’s still not “cheap”.

While we were at the show, while the show was actually on the stage, people were on their phones.

When I say people, I don’t mean Gen-z. I mean older millennials and I dare say Gen X.

Seriously people?


I had to tap the person in front of me three times to shut her phone in the dark theater. She made a face at me. I may or may not have mouthed an inappropriate word at her. when she started to do it a fourth time I may or may not have kicked the back of her seat really hard.

And I told the usher at intermission about the plethora of phones. I told her exactly which seats had been doing it, but as there were so many, I think I missed some.

It is very very distracting for someone to put a light on in a dark place. If you don’t know this, I’m sorry but I’m judging you as an idiot.

Why did you pay good money to be at a show if you are going to scroll throughout the show? Seriously. I want to know.

Have we lost our ability to be in the moment?

Have we forgotten that you are disturbing the actors on the stage? Disturbing the people around you? Do you ever think about anyone other than yourself? Do we just not care as long as we get to LOL at a cat meme? Should the usher be forced to stand at the front of the mezzanine to make sure that no one uses their phone?

These aren’t children. These are grown ass adults who presumably have the funds to attend a Broadway show…

If you’re “bored”, just leave…

Points for discussion:

Has our use of phones gotten out of hand?

Do we reach for our phones the SECOND that we are bored or restless?

If you go to a theater, movie, music or play, do you take out your phone throughout the performance for the sake of scrolling?

Was I right to tell the person in front of me to stop?

If, and I mean if, I kicked the back of the chair, did I have the right to do that, or should I have thought more about the person scrolling because it might have been a twitter emergency, or that thumbs up really needed to be on the Instagram post?

What would you do in the situation?

Was this my story to tell?


92 thoughts on “Take Your Phones Out

  1. I agree completely that phones should only come out at intermission. Nothing is important enough to miss the show I paid good money to see. This reminds me of another complaint I have. Why do people spend big bucks for a concert and talk through the whole thing? And these are not younger people. Then there are those who are up and down because they must have more beer. I’m there for the concert I spent good money to see.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. I so agree with you. Plus, having been an actress when I was young, I think about the actors on stage. Rude people, phones etc. can distract them and that is totally not fair! There is such a thing as Theatre Etiquette and people who don’t follow it upset me.

    For a few years I shared season theatre tickets with a dear friend. She had always bought two seats reserved for every show but when her daughter went away to college she asked if I wanted to pay for one of the seats for the upcoming season. I jumped at the chance. In Broward county we have a lovely theatre center and my friend’s seats were fabulous. Right by the orchestra.

    What I didn’t anticipate was that she would get bored every time we went and always wanted to leave before the play was over. Or she’d talk and we were close enough to the stage that the actors could hear and often see us. I tried to explain that first of all, I was paying a fortune for the tickets and I wanted to stay for the entire play. And plus, it’s distracting when people get up. The actors KNOW when people leave. So She and I had very different views about going to the theatre. We were not on the same page. The next season I picked out a few shows to attend but not every one. And I made her promise she would stay until the end. Otherwise I wouldn’t go. We worked it out but I was surprised that we viewed seeing a play so differently.

    Not everyone is respectful to the actors or the viewers. It really bugs me. Plus, shows are very expensive. So I want the maximum theatrical experience when I spend my money. And I want to watch everything carefully. I love seeing the actors and dancers perform.

    l see viewing a play from the point of view as someone who understands what it is to pour your heart out on stage. I understand what’s it’s like when some fool distracts everyone. It happens now and then, but it shouldn’t be an every day experience. People are just rude. I noticed a big difference in bad theatre etiquette in last few years. It’s rather sad.

    Liked by 5 people

  3. I’d have kicked the seat, too. Those bright lights in the dark space are so irritating! I don’t understand why people have to be on their phones in the middle of a movie or show, either, because it’s just like you said- why did you pay to go so you could scroll on your phone? You could have done that at home for a lot less money.

    Liked by 2 people

  4. I completely agree as well, LA. It’s incredibly rude. The problem is that these phones of ours are completely addictive. At the gym, people sit on a machine and use their phones rather than exercise or let someone else use it. I wonder how it will end!

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Isn’t it amazing that some folks have no clue how rude they are? I am flabbergasted sometimes at yes- I will use the word- stupidity that some people show. There’s the frivolous disregard of cost, the absence of respect for the actors, the blatant disregard for anyone sitting near them and I think they really believe they have the *right* to do what makes them happy or fuels their addiction regardless of anything or anyone else. I wonder when the time will come that we all have to go through a body search and relinquish all devices before being allowed to enter. Or if you can’t do that then maybe you forfeit your ticket…back to the no mask no entrance era but with phones…

    Liked by 3 people

      1. I wonder if we can generalize a bit- walk somewhat into the territory of entitlement and privilege and the concept that some believe they have the ability to follow their own rules as they will, yet may also mightily complain if someone else infringed on their established norms…

        Liked by 3 people

  6. wow-if this happens in a city that’s ‘supposed’ to know about cultural etiquette, then it makes sense those areas outside the NYC (he)artistic bubble-hub are doing the same only on a more accelerated level. If not just the disregard (not ignorance) of basic concert/theatre/etc etiquette, then how about a practical ‘this costs a bunch so better pay attention’ …As a performing musician, we used to request no flash photography due to the random distraction it would incur and there’d be about 80% compliance…but now that sounds so innocent!
    But not just for the performers, the guy-in-the-seat next to you has a right to see/hear what he paid for etc etc etc.
    Right now, I’m planning my mini concert/presentation as a visiting artist in a summer program for TAG students at a local Arts Center. Here, it really is a matter of ‘cultural etiquette’ ignorance. Additionally, there’s a desire to ‘do it right’. Interesting juxtaposition.

    Liked by 2 people

  7. I don’t like when someone is using their phone in a movie theater. That’s really annoying and I will definitely tell people to put it away.

    My husband and I are seeing a broadway show in April and yes, NOT CHEAP, lol! Although, I admit, I do want to record some of it, if that’s allowed? We’ve never been to a Broadway show before and we can’t wait.

    I am a video/photo/record everything -aloholic. I guess that’s why I have 2 blogs and scrapbook albums, printed photo books, and storage boxes full of memories. Someday, those will probably be the only way I can remember anything, lol.

    I’m definitely guilty of grabbing my phone and going online or playing a game the moment I start to tune out or get bored. But I don’t do that in a movie or a performance, unless video is allowed like at a concert or something.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. Totally agree with you that as a society we have become consumed with our phones!! I know I ‘yell” at myself sometimes to put my phone down! BUT i never use it at a theater during a movie or a play. I am there to see the show! I think you had the right to do what you did.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. Yes we are too hooked on phones. And I think it’s an actual addiction , but if you’re aware you can work on it . I’m glad you kicked the seat . Did they tell people “no phones during the show”? I think they should .

    Liked by 2 people

      1. Sometimes I just don’t like humans very much… and really what can be done? Do they hold up the show while drama goes on among the patrons, risk a huge scene/fight/whatever or do their best not to distract by sending mental threats floating out over the row hoping the phone people will stop? It’s another in the long line of no win situations for anyone and I can’t believe I’m saying this but rules are not meant to be broken and there has to be enforceable consequences 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      2. You know I’m a big believer is rules and consequences…what crushed me is she kept doing it. Worst part…you know she told all her friends about the karen sitting behind her. And this woman was in her forties at least.

        Liked by 1 person

  10. Hooked on phones. They are like my now needed fitbit to keep my right hip and myself going along with checking heartbeat and blood pressure. There was a case in Tampa of a man (retired policeman) taking out a gun when he asked one of the younger patrons to put away his phone in the movie theatre. The younger guy threw something at him and the retired policeman took out his gun and shot him. It was an interesting case. My beef with phones was being afraid to take them away in the middle school classroom as the students would get very aggressive for my resource VE class. In the end, I ended up calling Admin as I did not want to get hurt over a phone.

    Liked by 3 people

  11. I usually take pictures a lot when we go to events but even I respect the rules by only taking pics before the show starts or at intermission. So rude, especially after you asked her (nicely I’m sure) the first time.

    Liked by 1 person

  12. I tend to agree with you a lot and I definitely do today. I will never understand why people have their phones out in the theatre. My eyes hurt when I’m trying to adjust from their bright screens in the dark. It seems like the attention span of adults is similar to these damn kids. I would have definitely told on all of them and kicked the hell out of her chair!

    Liked by 1 person

  13. Phones and, now, smart watches! I don’t know if people just don’t realize how distracting these lights are (giving them the benefit of the doubt) or they just don’t care (more likely) but it is the height of rudeness to continue after being asked to stop. I’m curious (not that some would comply anyway), did the theater make a request before the play started to turn off all electronics? I’m hearing that more and more and appreciate the reminder to silence the phone in my purse.

    Liked by 1 person

  14. I completely agree with you – tickets are expensive and should call people to be present and you were completely in your rights to call attention to the poor behavior. But have you heard the Buddhist concept of the second arrow? The first arrow is the one from the outside that wounds us – and the second is our own arrow that we add to the hurt when we focus on it. I wonder if (and I’m in no way saying that I could do it) there’s a way to not pay attention to the egregious behavior so you could enjoy the show more? Again – not saying I could do it because the light in a dark theater is totally distracting…

    Liked by 2 people

  15. The tradition of watching a live performance is slowly fading in India as more and more people like to spend money on 3D movie theatres. While people do go for live rock and pop shows, most people cannot sit still for a long time. When you pay for high-priced tickets, dress up nicely, the least an audience is expected to do is not talk on their phones. It disturbs everyone and is disrespectful to the performers. Phones should not be allowed for live performances with seating.

    Liked by 1 person

  16. It’s incredibly rude to haul out one’s phone during a performance. If something is really so urgent that it can’t wait, then get up and go to the lobby where you won’t disturb others. Phones have become an actual addiction for some people–I think they begin to go through physical withdrawal if they can’t get a “fix.”

    Liked by 2 people

  17. Oh, there is so much to uncover with this! First, yes, I think society has become addicted to their phones. The thought of missing out on something supercedes being present in the moment. Two, society has become rude and self-absorbed to greater degrees than ever. No thought to the performers or the people sitting around them. Three, I’m glad you spoke up. When no one brings these things to attention, it’s like we’re giving a pass. On the other hand, sometimes you have to be careful because you never know how someone will react. Three, the kicking the seat made me chuckle. Lastly, it should be a rule posted to silence and put away phones. Ushers should then have the right to ask people who aren’t complying to do so. And if they refuse then they have to leave. Whatever happened to respect and putting yourself in the shoes of others and considering them?! Sheesh!!

    Liked by 1 person

  18. Here in Wellington, whether at the movies, the orchestra, or some other theatre, we are always told to turn off our phones before the show starts. Wouldn’t that be easy for whoever is running the theatre to which you go? It certainly works for us and we very rarely see a light come on in a theatre

    Liked by 1 person

  19. We saw Hamilton only the other day. I could not believe the number of people who scrolled through their phones during the performance, and I saw two people bring in food! It makes me SO very angry, and I am tending to avoid these outings rather than allow the blood pressure go into overdrive. Interestingly, I have not seen this behaviour when I attend amateur ( community) theatre. Which makes me think its behaviour that goes with feeling “entitled”?

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I don’t attend much community theater so I can’t compare. But I really think people can’t be bored for a nano second. Someone else said before…it’s an addiction

      Liked by 1 person

  20. I don’t fault you one bit…it’s distracting and as you’ve said, there are PLENTY of announcements and reminders. Beyond that, it’s a safety thing in a live performance…I know performers who’ve taken tumbles, missed marks and hurt themselves because of distracting glare and flashes of light from audiences. Grrr…

    Liked by 2 people

  21. Similar but not quite the same: my biggest pet peeve is people who talk their way through concerts. Big arena shows aren’t the problem; I’m referring to smaller, more intimate venues where chit-chattering patrons are more likely to drown out the music. SO ANNOYING. Tara almost got into a physical altercation once after telling somebody to STFU.

    Bottom line: I totally applaud what you did and agree with your stance 100%.

    Liked by 2 people

    1. I know! Why must people talk? My daughter and went to see the pentatonix Christmas show aboit 5 years ago. The two women in front of us were talking through the opening act. I leaned over and said if they were planning on talking could we at least switch seats…she gave me a look and her date told me she would be quiet

      Liked by 2 people

  22. I think everything has been said about this that needs to be said, and I am shaking my head in dismay and agreeing. Somehow people managed to live in the “olden days” without being connected 24/7. I don’t know how we would ever go back to that, but I think we should. Maybe that would give people time and opportunity to explore civility and good manners.

    Liked by 2 people

  23. What is the point of going to a show and then starting at your phone and missing half of it? Most theatres I go to make an announcement at the beginning to turn off phones. I suppose “those people” think that applies to everyone but them. Honestly, it’s distracting to others and just plain rude. I might have done worse than kick the seat! 🤭

    Liked by 2 people

  24. Both phones and bad manners have gotten out of control! I realized this a few years ago when I was sitting in church as the Christmas Eve service began, and the couple in front of me took selfies of themselves, which they then immediately posted. I know, because I could see their phones. And I was thinking, in a very non-Christian way, WTF????

    Liked by 2 people

  25. I agree with everyone. It’s so rude and inconsiderate towards those on the stage and everyone else in the audience. I love going to the theatre and my phone gets turned off and put in my bag and my watch is put onto theatre mode. My friend and I have paid good money for our tickets, so we want to immerse ourselves in the performance. Maybe I’ve been fortunate – or this behaviour hasn’t made it to the shows I’ve attended as I’ve not been aware of phone lights. I’d have been demanding the woman in front of you was asked to leave. An example needs to be made of these people to make it clear such behaviour isn’t acceptable

    Liked by 1 person

  26. I went out with a guy who always had his phone out, to snap or video the experience, so he could share it on social media. He was one of those people who buys into the view that if there’s no pictorial evidence, it didn’t happen. I found it annoying and embarrassing – and told him so. We didn’t last long, unsurprisingly.

    Fortunately Himself & I don’t go to live events much, so we get to avoid the entitled behaviour.

    Liked by 1 person

      1. Just as a starter, the line is not to use the phone where their use is prohibited – like in a theatre or cinema. This was just a taster of his behaviour. He also *had* to have selfies with every celebrity and couldn’t understand why I didn’t want one. On one occasion he was jostling for position in order to get a shot with someone (I forget who now) and I stood chatting to the singer from Fine Young Cannibals while I waited. He was delightful company, but the guy couldn’t understand why just chatting was enough for me and why I didn’t want a selfie too.

        Liked by 1 person

  27. Our attention spans are definitely lower. I’ve noticed it in myself. When I’m home watching TV, I’ll whip out my phone immediately if there’s a lag in the plot or the comedian isn’t funny. I’ve noticed it, so now I leave my phone upstairs for a couple of hours to force myself to engage, no matter what.

    And you’re right…what are we looking at anyway? A flipping dog making a funny face?

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’m reading a book now that distinguishes between types of activities, passive like watching tv or scrolling through apps or active like baking or needlepoint or reading a novel. The passive activities like scrolling don’t give you a lasting sense of peace but actually counter that. I’m not doing it justice here, but I’m going to write a post about it after I finish the book

      Liked by 1 person

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