Tweet away . . . a long way away

It has taken a while but almost everyone now gets the idea about turning off your mobile phone before settling down to watch a play, or movie or discussion.

True, you occasionally hear the jarring sound of a phone going off but that’s usually the result of forgetfulness rather than ignorance.

But now a new irritant has emerged, particularly at events like Writers’ Festivals but also at the theatre. Tweets. And to make it worse they are being encouraged by organisers.

No sooner has the discussion/talk/debate begun than the audience is aglow with the illuminated screen of a dozen phones as the tweets fly out.

People tweeting news events as they happen I can understand. Just. But surely quality is preferable to quantity.

How can a tweet-by-tweet account of a discussion or debate do justice to either the speaker or the twit. Sorry, tweeter. There is no way (even allowing for the female ability to multi-task) that you can be giving anything but a shallow scatter-gun coverage.

We recently went to see philosopher Alain De Botton speaking on Religion for Atheists, part of a regular series of discussions at Sydney Opera House.

De Botton is an engaging speaker and his presentation was very entertaining, based understandably on his book Religion for Atheists: A non-believer’s guide to the uses of religion. 

But as good as it was it was hardly news. So why the guy in front of me felt it was necessary to fire off endless tweets to his no-doubt army of ardent followers is beyond me.

De Botton standing at podium@irritating

De Botton an atheist!@irritating

Audience applauding@irritating.

person sitting behind me needs anger management lessons@irritating.

Here’s an idea. Tweeters tweet away if you must (although it might be a good idea to actually listen to and absorb the speaker’s comments first), but only if you and your illuminated screen is not in between the audience and the person on stage.

It’s something to which the organisers need to give serious thought. Surely those people who want to simply focus on the person in the stage spotlight without the distraction of glowing screens in the audience should receive equal consideration.

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