(This is the Online column, written for The Southland Times)
Gather ’round children, as today we learn all about something from the olden days, that long ago time before Facebook and texting: how to behave like a real human being in public.
I went to the ballet a couple of weekends ago and it was awesome: fit Russian blokes in tights flitting around the stage with a bunch of pretty wee sheilas, rousing music and a spot of Cossack dancing chucked in for good measure made for a spectacular afternoon of entertainment.
However, the cellphones nearly ruined it. Turn the damn things off, or at least turn down the volume. And don’t text during the performance: it’s rude to the performers and distracting to those of us in the audience who are there to see the ballet. You know, the enthusiastic leaping stuff with the fit blokes that was happening on stage.
And if you arrive late, don’t take that as an opportunity to have a not-so-quiet chat with you friends who arrived earlier.
And, damn it, don’t kick the back of the seat of the person in front of you. Or take your shoes off and put your gnarly foot on the armrest next to the person in front of you.
I was back at the Civic a few nights later to see ventriloquist David Strassman and his merry wee band of puppets and, once again, it was cellphone city: two of them rang during the first half of the show and the bloke two rows in front of me who spent most of the first half texting could at least have turned down the brightness of his screen so it didn’t shine like a beacon.
The minute the lights came up for the half-time break, every second person had their phone out, texting, surfing or just being generally isolated. Why do we go out with other people if we are simply going to limit our human interaction to whatever we can manage via cellphone? It’s like we’re losing our ability to actually interact with other human beings face-to-face.