Results tagged “texting” from critical difference

On tour in China with the National Symphony Orchestra, The Washington Post's Anne Midgette examines the similarities between going to the concert hall in the U.S. and in Macau, where she finds "the same ushers pouncing like hawks on young people trying to text on their mobile phones during the show. (Both ushers and young people here showed a striking degree of determination.)"

Discouraging about the young folk, of course, but American ushers -- and their bosses -- could take a tip from their Chinese counterparts. Here, vigilance isn't necessarily the rule.
June 10, 2009 11:39 AM |
Here's a piece of the puzzle that hadn't yet fallen into place when I wrote on Sunday about texting at the theater. In Tuesday's New York Times, John Tierney discussed the research of M.I.T. neuroscientist Robert Desimone, who "has been tracking the brain waves of macaque monkeys and humans as they stare at video screens looking for certain flashing patterns."

This is the key bit: "When something bright or novel flashes, it tends to automatically win the competition for the brain's attention" -- and even though we can override that impulse, it's a struggle.

"It takes a lot of your prefrontal brain power to force yourself not to process a strong input like a television commercial," said Dr. Desimone, the director of the McGovern Institute for Brain Research at M.I.T. "If you're trying to read a book at the same time, you may not have the resources left to focus on the words."

Reading a book when a TV set is turned on, watching a play when someone lights up the darkness with a glowing screen: Either way, our attention has just moved from what we want to focus on to something we have to fight hard to ignore.
May 7, 2009 4:16 PM |
It's the glow that kills the atmosphere: brightness surrounded by a seeping luminescence. In the darkness of the theater, it draws the peripheral vision of even the most determinedly focused spectators.

The source? Some jerk, text-messaging during the show.

Banning texting at the theater is a crucial extension of the prohibition against cell-phone use during performances, but I'd never heard a pre-show announcement forbidding it until last weekend, when I went to see the stageFARM's "The Gingerbread House" at Rattlestick Playwrights Theater in the West Village. When I wrote about it the other day on True/Slant, saying that if a device glows in the dark, it shouldn't be turned on during the performance, I didn't expect to hear someone I respect arguing for the other side, let alone suggesting general codes of behavior at the theater need some rethinking. Then I opened my e-mail.

"I'm not sure I care if people are texting or not," wrote a friend who works in theater, adding that he'd once caught students texting each other about the show during a weekday matinee. "That's not a bad thing."

I begged to differ, and thus began our little e-mail brawl, his part of which he's given me permission to quote here.

For my friend, texting has been a recent topic of staff discussions, in which people have been divided about how to deal with it.

"Why are we so precious about the way in which we view theater?" he asked me. "Does it always have to be quietly and in the dark? Why can't theater be more like baseball? I can talk, eat, hear screaming voices, see people moving around and watch the game all at the same time -- and not really miss anything. I think we have to shake things up a bit. Stop demanding human beings -- coughing, fidgeting, farting, eating human beings -- be themselves when watching a play."
May 3, 2009 1:46 PM | | Comments (12)
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