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Marimba, meet Mahler
January 11, 2012 5:59 AM   Subscribe

An incessantly ringing iPhone in the front row prompted NY Philharmonic conductor Alan Gilbert to halt last night's concert.

According to an ever-growing number of reports, the orchestra was partway through the last movement of Mahler's Ninth Symphony when the phone started ringing. Once Gilbert had stopped the orchestra, he asked the offender to turn off the phone, and the performance resumed. Some in the audience called out for the offender to be fined or expelled, or to just leave. Others wonder at the un-hipness of an audience with so few iphones.
posted by underthehat (373 comments total) 14 users marked this as a favorite

 
Why the hell didn't he just hit the silent switch, or hit the volume buttons, which immediately silences the ringer?

Are people actually this stupid? Or maybe this guy was mentally handicapped? Was he doing it on purpose???
posted by chiffonade at 6:05 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Others wonder at the un-hipness of an audience with so few iphones.
Or, y'know, maybe others in the audience had the foresight to switch theirs off? Perhaps.
posted by slater at 6:05 AM on January 11, 2012 [20 favorites]


Unless you're masochistic enough to want to click on a bunch of Twitter links, "to halt last night's concert" is the only one to read.
posted by CaseyB at 6:06 AM on January 11, 2012 [42 favorites]


Alan Gilbert is pretty bad, but nothing makes me want to crawl under my seat in horrified sympathy more than the idea of being yelled at by Daniel Craig and Hugh Jackman. Augh.
posted by fight or flight at 6:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Before resuming, Mr. Gilbert addressed the audience. He said: "I apologize. Usually, when there's a disturbance like this, it is best to ignore it, because addressing it is sometimes worse than the disturbance itself. But this was so egregious that I could not allow it."

Shut up 'n play yer guitar.
posted by three blind mice at 6:08 AM on January 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I'd like to imagine there is a backstory, and it was some rival who just wanted to fuck with the conductor. Orchestral sabotage!
posted by smackfu at 6:10 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Are people actually this stupid?

Yes. I would actually guess that a majority of cell phone users don't know that they can mute an incoming call.
posted by kiltedtaco at 6:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


No one shot cell phone video of this?
posted by R. Mutt at 6:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [23 favorites]


In case you missed it, this link was in one of the comments after the article.

Seems like a reasonable solution.
posted by HuronBob at 6:15 AM on January 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


I'm not a big fan of the oppressive "sit motionless and silently" during most orchestral music but when there's a piece like that that's meant to actually be paid attention to and absorbed into all your pores, it's like being punched in the soul when a cell phone goes off.
posted by seanmpuckett at 6:15 AM on January 11, 2012 [54 favorites]


Others wonder at the un-hipness of an audience with so few iphones.

Methinks that the twitterer was just being sarcastic.
posted by NoMich at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Why the hell didn't he just hit the silent switch, or hit the volume buttons, which immediately silences the ringer?

Are people actually this stupid? Or maybe this guy was mentally handicapped? Was he doing it on purpose???


Not to defend the indefensible (and I always TRIPLE check that my iPhone ringer is off when it should be) but there have been several times when my wife has alerted me that my phone was ringing, and I couldn't hear it. I think it's due to a combination of a couple things: if the phone is in my pants pocket, the sound travels further "out" than "up" resulting in it being more muffled to me than to her; and her much younger ears are certainly better than mine.

So, yeah, I can understand how someone could not hear their own phone going off. Not saying that's what happened, but it's possible. But in any case if you remember to TURN THE DAMN THING OFF when entering such situations, you don't have to worry about it.
posted by The Deej at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2012



>Are people actually this stupid?

>Yes. I would actually guess that a majority of cell phone users don't know that they can mute an incoming call.

No, they know they can do that. They just don't care. Like this guy. He could have turned off the phone, but he figured it wasn't a big deal.
posted by thermonuclear.jive.turkey at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Why the hell didn't he just hit the silent switch, or hit the volume buttons, which immediately silences the ringer?


Reaching into his pocket to silence the offending phone would immediately reveal the culprit, which is the last thing he wants. Having witnessed this kind of occurrence, I can attest that the most common reaction is pretty much the same as when someone inadvertently but noisily passes wind: looking innocent and indignant while secretly hoping that nobody will notice that the source of the noise is in your trousers.
posted by Skeptic at 6:16 AM on January 11, 2012 [38 favorites]


"Hanging's too good for him. Burning's too good for him! He should be torn into little bitsy pieces and buried alive!"
posted by 445supermag at 6:17 AM on January 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


Bad enough that people can't be bothered to mute their phones in a movie theater, but this is insane. Fight or flight's link to the story about Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig is even worse! Turn off your damn phones people! The thought of being this man is why I usually leave my phone in my car rather than risk forgetting to turn it off at the symphony. You can be without it for a few hours, for God's sake!
posted by dellsolace at 6:17 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I'm actually kind of surprised by the reaction here so far. In the concert hall, as in the movie theatre, there's a big announcement before the performance saying, "please turn off your cell phones", just like there is before a movie.

But in a concert hall, audience silence is the important factor, rather than darkness. Symphonies can go from really loud to whisper soft, such as in the case of the finale of Mahler's 9th. Having a cellphone go off repeatedly right then, especially when the concert-goer was reminded to turn off his cell before the concert started, is tantamount to having someone play a loud video game on their cellphone during a movie.

Considering the annoyance that the use of cell-phones causes most mefites who go to the movies (witness the raving over the Alamo Drafthouse and its rules for cellphone use), I'm quite surprised people aren't dumping all over the guy in the audience.
posted by LN at 6:18 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, shit happens. Nobody turns an iPhone off really (except all the people in here that will reply that they turn theirs off all the time) and the vibrate switch gets toggled accidentally all the time.

Judging from the link, there was no doubt they knew who the culprit was, the conductor asked him if he was finished while he was tinkering with his phone, probably to shut the ringer off.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:21 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


"...the source of the noise is in your trousers"...

Is the best statement I've read all morning, thank you. My goal is to say that to at least one person each and every day!
posted by HuronBob at 6:22 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I'm quite surprised people aren't dumping all over the guy in the audience.

Maybe I'm just easily embarassed, but I should think being called out (i) from the front row (ii) by the conductor (iii) in front of a giant audience (iv) with many people booing you is punishment enough. Sometimes people are douchebags. Sometimes people make mistakes. Life goes on.
posted by fight or flight at 6:24 AM on January 11, 2012


He likes the symphony enough to pay $150 for a front-row ticket, but not enough to turn off his phone? That hall has a seating capacity of 2738 seats. He thought that potentially ruining the concert for 2700 people was better than the inconvenience of missing immediate audio announcement of his calls.

He deserved the shaming he got.
posted by Houstonian at 6:24 AM on January 11, 2012 [39 favorites]


I'm quite surprised people aren't dumping all over the guy in the audience

Oh, they did. See the non-Twitter link: "Someone shouted 'Thousand dollar fine.' This was followed by cries of 'Get out!' and 'Kick him out!.' Some people started clapping rhythmically but the hall was quieted down. House security did not intervene or remove the offender."
posted by Houstonian at 6:27 AM on January 11, 2012


I honestly can't figure out how to COMPLETELY silence the phone so it doesn't vibrate or anything when I get a call.
posted by desjardins at 6:27 AM on January 11, 2012


This is why I don't go to the cinema any more, unless it's a big loud stupid summer blockbuster, or an animation thing with the kids. Fuck the general public with their talking, rustling and phones.
posted by GallonOfAlan at 6:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Desjardins: Airplane mode. Use it.
posted by Potomac Avenue at 6:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


Tickets to the New York Philharmonic and Broadway shows are really expensive. I would be furious if someone interrupted what for me are basically a couple times in a lifetime experiences with their stupid phone. I tend to just leave the damn thing at home when I'm going to the movie theater, and my husband certainly turns his iPhone off at the movies let alone at a concert or play.

You are not that important that you must get a call at all times. If you are that important, you probably aren't at the movies, a concert, or a show because you're on call and you don't want to have to leave in the middle. When they make that announcement to turn your phones off, they mean everybody, even you.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:29 AM on January 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


Well, not to descend into hypotheticals, but he could be a heart transplant surgeon or some shit. If the headline was "child dies because heart surgeon turns his cell phone off while enjoying rich guy symphony" we would be howling with rage.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:29 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


How to turn off an iPhone: hold down the button on top, until the "slide to power off" screen appears. Slide to power off.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:31 AM on January 11, 2012 [11 favorites]


What about concert hall-wide jamming? At least the em radiation keeps my toes toasty in the cheap seats.
posted by sneebler at 6:31 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Well, not to descend into hypotheticals, but he could be a heart transplant surgeon or some shit. If the headline was "child dies because heart surgeon turns his cell phone off while enjoying rich guy symphony" we would be howling with rage.

so then don't go to the symphony when you know that you can't because people could die
posted by Sticherbeast at 6:31 AM on January 11, 2012 [41 favorites]


LN: I'm actually kind of surprised by the reaction here so far.

This is one of the extremely rare occasions where I support the death penalty. No trial necessary either.
posted by gman at 6:31 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


He likes the symphony enough to pay $150 for a front-row ticket, but not enough to turn off his phone? That hall has a seating capacity of 2738 seats. He thought that potentially ruining the concert for 2700 people was better than the inconvenience of missing immediate audio announcement of his calls.

Wait, wait, wait. Front-row tickets to the symphony are $150? That seems incredibly cheap to me compared to the price for premium seats at something like a football game.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 6:33 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


You'd think they'd install phone jammers if people pay so much for tickets.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:33 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Animals.
posted by CautionToTheWind at 6:34 AM on January 11, 2012


Desjardins: Airplane mode. Use it.

There's no functional difference between this and just turning it off. For the record, I just turn mine all the way off at the theater.
posted by desjardins at 6:34 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Yeah, shit happens. Nobody turns an iPhone off really (except all the people in here that will reply that they turn theirs off all the time) and the vibrate switch gets toggled accidentally all the time.

What? Seriously??

I submit then this is why out of a thousand people, somebody always seems to mess it up. Phones do not ring when they are turned off. It's foolproof.

I just don't know what to say ... if it's honestly unreasonable to turn off your iPhone during the Philharmonic, I just don't know what to say to that. Why would you even need it on?! When they ask everyone to turn off their phones, and there's a 10 second pause where your neighbors do so, do you think, "hey I'll leave mine on so that I can save 30 seconds at the end of the show"?
posted by cotterpin at 6:34 AM on January 11, 2012 [31 favorites]


Why the hell didn't he just hit the silent switch, or hit the volume buttons, which immediately silences the ringer? Are people actually this stupid?

Some people sometimes just panic when this kind of thing happens, and temporarily forget that the mute button or silence button is an option. I think the panic-mindset is "I can't answer it, so I'll let it go to voicemail. Yes, that is the right thing to do." I had a play I was working on get interrupted by a woman who had her own phone go off, and I could sort of tell by the way she was acting that that was probably her mindset. (To add insult to injury, her ring tone was the sound of a clucking chicken. It was a really surreal moment.)

However -- I can also definitely attest that yes, sometimes people really are actually this stupid.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:35 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Houstonian: "He likes the symphony enough to pay $150 for a front-row ticket, but not enough to turn off his phone?

My guess is he probably just forgot the ringer was on. It does happen. I once had my cell go off in my pocket while I was standing off camera in a studio, about 10 feet from an anchor doing a live tv broadcast. These days, I always shut the damned thing off in the green room so I don't make an ass of myself, and tell clients to do the same.

What makes him a true ass is he didn't shut the damned thing off immediately.

He deserved the shaming he got."

Agreed.
posted by zarq at 6:35 AM on January 11, 2012


Wait, wait, wait. Front-row tickets to the symphony are $150? That seems incredibly cheap to me compared to the price for premium seats at something like a football game.

The violin player doesn't get a million dollar salary.
posted by smackfu at 6:35 AM on January 11, 2012 [46 favorites]


Metafilter: the source of the noise is in your trousers.
posted by Philosopher Dirtbike at 6:37 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


The functional difference between airplane mode and turning it all the way off is that 1) alarms will still ring in airplane mode, and 2) it's much quicker to flip the radio back on than reboot the whole phone.
posted by ofthestrait at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


I wonder how many times it rang. The tweets imply it went on and on, like maybe someone was trying to call the person multiple times.
posted by mediareport at 6:38 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


You'd think they'd install phone jammers if people pay so much for tickets.

Huh? If it's wrong for BART to turn off cell phone service on train platforms to prevent protests, then it's wrong for the owners of a public theatre to jam legal communications just so some upper class snob won't have their symphony disturbed.

This row over cell phones must have been like people complaining over the noise from horns when the horse-less carriage came into use. It's here to stay. Get over it.
posted by three blind mice at 6:40 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I admit, I haven't been to any kind of symphony performance since a high-school field trip somethingsomething years ago, but I have been to lots of movies, and even at the theaters where people can get away with talking (and especially at those where they can't), they have those "silence your cellphones" messages. Do they have those at symphonies? Or are people at that level of society expected to have better manners?
posted by adamrice at 6:40 AM on January 11, 2012


Anyone can forget to turn off their phone. That's not what happened here: An iPhone (using the marimba ring-tone) went off repeatedly in the fourth movement of Mahler's final completed symphony.

So, after the first time it rang and interrupted the concert, the guy failed to turn it off. More than once.

At that point, it is no longer sufficient to be angry at the dude. You should also be angry at the house for not throwing him out.
posted by DU at 6:41 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


desjardins: "There's no functional difference between this and just turning it off."

Yes there is. Everything that does not require a wireless connection on the phone will still work. Alarms. Apps. You can still make an emergency call. Etc.

However, while there may be situations where airplane mode might be more desirable than just shutting the phone off, watching a concert really isn't one of 'em.
posted by zarq at 6:41 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


You'd think they'd install phone jammers if people pay so much for tickets.

I would expect that there are a fair number of cell phones being used backstage, or by security, or some other house wireless system which would be interferred with by a jammer. Even next door at the Met, some of the props are remotely controlled.

People paying heed to the announcement they're already given is the solution. And for that, I have no problem whatsoever with a public shaming (particularly if the house isn't willing to eject them). What other enforcement mechanism is there, really?
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:42 AM on January 11, 2012


adamrice: "they have those "silence your cellphones" messages. Do they have those at symphonies? "

Yes. Typically a request is made to turn off all cell phones and electronic devices at the start of any performance and right before intermission ends.
posted by zarq at 6:44 AM on January 11, 2012


No Android device would ever be so rude.
posted by quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon at 6:44 AM on January 11, 2012 [28 favorites]


For those that have mentioned cell phone jammers, they are illegal in the united states
posted by HuronBob at 6:44 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


So, after the first time it rang and interrupted the concert, the guy failed to turn it off. More than once.

I was wondering about that. Reading story it seems like the marimba tone played repeatedly. Not that he received multiple calls. I am really wondering because if he got multiple calls and still didn't put it on vibrate then I am with you guys and think this guy is an ass.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:46 AM on January 11, 2012


There is an annoying quirk with iPhones: even when set to vibrate, alarms can still sound audibly. I wonder if that was behind this-- the phone owner's alarm went off, he thought he silenced it, but it was only snoozed so it went off again.

It happens to me often, which is why I always turn my phone all the way off at a concert or movie or whenever I need dependable silence.
posted by underthehat at 6:46 AM on January 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


This seems like exactly the sort of thing for which we should reinstate the use of public pillories.
posted by elizardbits at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This row over cell phones must have been like people complaining over the noise from horns when the horse-less carriage came into use. It's here to stay. Get over it.

There's a difference between noise outside your house and noise inside your room.

Your insistance upon leaving your cell phone on makes you rude. YOU get over it.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2012 [39 favorites]


not to descend into hypotheticals, but he could be a heart transplant surgeon or some shit

People who are real heart transplant surgeons (or whatever) who might expect to get an emergency call while in the theater or concert hall know to give their device to an usher who will alert them if a page comes in. They also likely have a device dedicated to emergency contact use.
posted by slkinsey at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


It's worth noting that in some houses, the Front Row is actually a cheap seat. The acoustics are not bad, but they're also not particularly well balanced by virtue of your closeness to individual players. Also, you see ankles... lots and lots of ankles.

Anyway, this happened here in Houston last season. Phones go off pretty regularly, but conductors rarely stop the performance. But Mark Wigglesworth stopped the orchestra during a performance of Stravinsky's Firebird in order to demand that the phone be turned off. He was applauded.

While three blind mice's sentiment is on the nose in some respect, it totally misses a lot of points. First off, BART is a public service and a government entity. Restrictions on communication which amount to impairing free speech are at the very least constitutionally questionable. The NY Phil is not a government entity. The audience is ostensibly there of their own volition, and therefore reasonable terms can be set by the organizer including "Your phone wont work here. Deal with it or move on."

Ultimately I feel as though there has been this giant cultural shrug where progress is concerned. Oh well. Progress is here. Everyone might as well take off your pants and shake for the camera. That, it seems to me, is beneath us. Why do we feel it necessary to just GIVE UP in the face of the new? Those who cling to previous mores are tarred and feathered with the brush of anti-progressivism. I don't think that's true. I think it just means they're willing to work harder and make more sacrifices for the things they think are important, like an uninterrupted live performance.
posted by jph at 6:48 AM on January 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


The entire point of a symphonic concert is listening. It takes no effort to turn off your phone, and I don't care if you forgot, or if you didn't care, leaving your phone on, having it ring, *and letting it ring* is wrong.

And I'm tired of defending those who can't figure this out. You forgot? Don't forget next time, and for fuck's sake, if it does happen, immediately silence the ring and turn the phone off.

You'd think they'd install phone jammers if people pay so much for tickets.

Amongst the aforementioned issues -- and the rank illegality -- jammers have a nasty habit of not respecting legal boundaries. So even if it was legal for them to jam cell phones in the building, there's a very good chance they'd be jamming them outside the building as well.

There is an annoying quirk with iPhones: even when set to vibrate, alarms can still sound audibly

Yeah, I've filed bugreps on that. Silent means silent, dammit -- if that switch is down, there should never ever be a sound emitted from the speakers.
posted by eriko at 6:49 AM on January 11, 2012


"...they have those "silence your cellphones" messages. Do they have those at symphonies?

They most certainly do. Multiple times. Signs, ushers, general house announcements. You have to ignore several messages in different formats to get to the point buddy did.

Or are people at that level of society expected to have better manners?

There are jackasses everywhere. Last time I was at the Met (albeit in the nosebleeds), there was some asshole who was chowing down on Chinese takeout that he snuck in, and being very disruptive about it (granted, more an interference with the sight lines than with noise, but noise too). Never expected outside food to be a problem at the Met, nor that the Met wouldn't have a zero tolerance for that sort of thing. Instead, crackling styrofoam while we're trying to listen to Renee Fleming.

Seething rage is hardly a sufficient phrase.
posted by Capt. Renault at 6:50 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


People who are real heart transplant surgeons (or whatever) who might expect to get an emergency call while in the theater or concert hall know to give their device to an usher who will alert them if a page comes in. They also likely have a device dedicated to emergency contact use.

Ok, didn't know that. Good to know.
posted by Ad hominem at 6:51 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh? If it's wrong for BART to turn off cell phone service on train platforms to prevent protests, then it's wrong for the owners of a public theatre to jam legal communications just so some upper class snob won't have their symphony disturbed.

Apples aren't oranges, three blind mice. Public transit != high-priced entertainment venues, where everyone present has a vested interest in maintaining strict silence.
posted by IAmBroom at 6:51 AM on January 11, 2012


On January 9, 2007, Martha Raddatz's cell phone rang during a White House press briefing with Tony Snow. Her musical ring tone? Chamillionaire's, "Ridin' Dirty."
...as my colleague at CBS radio pointed out: “It is the first time in the history of White House briefings that the phrase, ‘Play some funky music, white girl’ has been uttered.”

posted by zarq at 6:51 AM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Aside from people who literally don't understand that there's a difference between an iPhone's screen being off and the iPhone being powered down, it's like people hear "Please turn off your phones" and think "Oh, they mean other people. I'll just put mine on silent. Yep, I'm sure it's on silent now."
posted by odinsdream at 6:52 AM on January 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Well, with this and all the death on the road from cell phones, I think we're actually at the point where we as a society don't get to have them any more. All the money we pay for these fancy devices should be put into nice touchscreen terminals that are bolted into walls wherever we go. Or, y'know, we could feed starving people. But who wants to do that?
posted by koeselitz at 6:54 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


If you leave your phone on during a performance, you are an uncivilized and disrespectful ass who has earned the derision of audience and performers alike.
posted by Mister_A at 6:55 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Better solution: leave your phone in the car. Trust me, you aren't important.
posted by Mister Fabulous at 6:56 AM on January 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


This row over cell phones must have been like people complaining over the noise from horns when the horse-less carriage came into use. It's here to stay. Get over it.

You can't be serious. We have lost the right to enjoy a symphony in silence?
posted by Think_Long at 6:57 AM on January 11, 2012 [24 favorites]


Do people really turn their cell phone off during movies?
posted by smackfu at 6:58 AM on January 11, 2012


Mister Fabulous: "Better solution: leave your phone in the car. Trust me, you aren't important."

I imagine for most people attending last night's performance, that would have meant filing a lost item report with the Taxi and Limousine Commission. :D
posted by zarq at 6:59 AM on January 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


"Your phone wont work here. Deal with it or move on."

Again, as already mentioned, the sale or use of cell phone jammers is illegal in the U.S., regardless of who you are.
posted by odinsdream at 6:59 AM on January 11, 2012


quonsar II: smock fishpants and the temple of foon: "No Android device would ever be so rude."

During a show my android phone turned itself on and starting buzzing due to a recurring alarm. I have never dismantled a device and removed its battery quite so quickly. Fucking Earth refused to swallow me whole too, which is all I wanted at that moment.
posted by vanar sena at 7:00 AM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


The problem with phone jammers - there may be doctors, IT wonks, or other permanently-on-call professionals in the audience. These types (and I'm one) generally know to put their device on vibrate, but sometimes they forget.

A better solution is a phone concierge (for symphony music halls or Broadway theaters) or a phone check (for movie theaters)

All patrons must check in their phones with the phone attendant, who gives them a small vibrating token, like some restaurants have to let you know when your table is ready. This also acts as the claim ticket, because it's going to have the number of the bin your phone is in on it.

When your phone goes off, the attendant enters the bin number into the system, and your token vibrates, letting you know a call came in. You can quietly get up to head to the lobby, or wait until intermission, or just ignore it.

If you don't check your phone in, and it goes off, they kick you out on the spot.

(In a perfect world, clowns would be waiting outside to make fun of you, and you are emailed a video of the symphony director ripping up your season tickets and pissing on them.)

You'd only need to be kicked out once, or see someone get kicked out once, to get the hint.
posted by Slap*Happy at 7:01 AM on January 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


Do people really turn their cell phone off during movies?

I do.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:01 AM on January 11, 2012 [21 favorites]


During a show my android phone turned itself on and starting buzzing due to a recurring alarm. I have never dismantled a device and removed its battery quite so quickly.

Exactly. How long does it take to realize "holy crap! my iPhone is ringing!" then yank it out of your pocket (covering the speakers as best you can) and force it into manual shutdown? Three seconds? Four? Maximum?
posted by slkinsey at 7:03 AM on January 11, 2012


Perhaps new concert venues can be built with metallic foil or cladding in the walls, such that cellphone signals are just blocked passively, without the use of active jamming?

Movie theaters might be a bit easier, since they're smaller and generally covered with acoustic tiles anyway (maybe the shielding could just be incorporated into the acoustic tiles; just tack some mesh and a grounding strap onto the back).

The new preshow warning could be: "Listen up, assholes, your cellphone won't work here anyway, so you might as well turn it off and save the battery."
posted by Kadin2048 at 7:03 AM on January 11, 2012


Rather than jamming, I would like to see a system whereby a signal could turn the ringer off. So when you walk into the theater your phone just silences itself automatically.

Of course, it's a typical collective action problem -- it drives up the cost of your phone to benefit the people around you -- so of course it will never happen. The people willing to pay to avoid being assholes probably aren't the assholes causing the problem.
posted by bjrubble at 7:04 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I think this is getting a little too complicated. What we need to do is have a few ushers here and there with AirSoft pellet guns. If your phone goes off, you get shot. Not, like, in the face or anything, but a good welt in the bicep.

Two for flinching.
posted by griphus at 7:04 AM on January 11, 2012 [12 favorites]


At least people's watch alarms and hour chimes don't go off any more.
posted by smackfu at 7:04 AM on January 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's funny -- I used to always just silence my phone at the movies, despite the fact that I know not to take it out to read texts. But it always bothered me when it vibrated and I couldn't take it out and look. Then I spent almost a week at a mountain retreat where I went out of my way to have my phone off most of the time, and it really helped me regain the ability to unplug completely. Now I turn it off entirely, and I'm much happier. Yes, in theory I could miss a call from someone in my family with a medical emergency or something, but in all honesty, I think that over the course of your life, the cost of those missed calls that really were critically important is outweighed by the cost of losing the ability to concentrate on something without always being prepared to shift your attention to something else. (People with kids are always like, "But it might be about my kids!" Honestly, you can leave the number of the theater/restaurant for someone to get you during real emergencies, just like people did in the olden days.)

Don't get me wrong -- I like and value being a pretty plugged-in person, but aside from those transplant surgeons (of whom there really aren't many, and who generally aren't the ones who are doing this), I agree that phones should be off. Off-off, not silent. Silenced phones are subject to spontaneously rebooting themselves occasionally (in which case they may or may not return muted), I find, and turned-off phones much less so. Furthermore, it's not just for others that you turn off your phone; it's to remind yourself that it's okay to think about one thing at a time.
posted by Linda_Holmes at 7:04 AM on January 11, 2012 [16 favorites]


Came here to say what Underhat said - the alarm function of the iphone overrides the mute button

But with that said - people tweeting during the interruption ought to be smacked in the head as well. Leave the damn thing in the car.
posted by photoslob at 7:05 AM on January 11, 2012


We were at a performance of "An Evening With Patti & Mandi" on Broadway, and Patti Lupone was singing "Don't Cry For Me, Argentina" from Evita- gorgeous, breathtaking, everyone on the edges of their seats. During the last beautiful moments of the song (probably right around "Have I said too much?"), a cell phone went off. And we all saw that she could hear it. Everyone knows Patti doesn't like to be interrupted, so what was she going to do?!? Would she stop? Glare? Scream? I couldn't breathe, I started to get dizzy, I was so excited. Alas, she chose to ignore it and finish the song. SO CLOSE to seeing a Patti meltdown live in the flesh.
posted by ThePinkSuperhero at 7:05 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


For those that have mentioned cell phone jammers, they are illegal in the united states

fine then what about sweet guitar solo jammers
posted by Sticherbeast at 7:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


smackfu: The violin player doesn't get a million dollar salary.

And the Lincoln Center doesn't hold 75,000 people. Apparently a regular performer in the NY Philharmonic earns around 90k, not to mention Gilbert probably receives in excess of a million. So if the concert was only in front of 2,700 people, that's about 3% of what the average football stadium holds. Doing that basic math makes the front row at $150 seem relatively cheap.
posted by gman at 7:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Phones do not ring when they are turned off. It's foolproof.

Some of them do have annoying shutdown sounds though. So if you remember five minutes into the event that you didn't turn off your phone and power it off, everyone around you will be treated to a loud "WHOOOSH - DOODLEE DOODLEE DOODLEE DOO!"
posted by burnmp3s at 7:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


He is probably mentally ill or a mental health outlier of some sort. Even if his life experiences did not result in him comprehending and valuing the cultural experience of listening to art music in a shared environment, people simply do not behave like that in front of thousands of other people. It's saddening that the music did not connect to him like it did to everyone else, and disturbing that there might not be anyone to show him this different world.
posted by polymodus at 7:08 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Can people get refunds because of this? Or a compensation ticket to another performance? I don't know if that is even a possible thing.

I know it isn't the Met's fault, but damn I would be angry if my night were ruined.
posted by weinbot at 7:08 AM on January 11, 2012


Also, the the primary caregiver to two chronically sick old ladies, it's can get a little more complicated than "just turn it off" and "just don't go somewhere you can't pick up a phone."

Which is why I spend concerts and movies and so on with my phone on silent and my finger on the 'mute' button like a goddamn cowboy at high noon.
posted by griphus at 7:08 AM on January 11, 2012


Some of them do have annoying shutdown sounds though. So if you remember five minutes into the event that you didn't turn off your phone and power it off, everyone around you will be treated to a loud "WHOOOSH - DOODLEE DOODLEE DOODLEE DOO!"

Boy, then it's a good thing that there's an announcement right before the show starts asking you to turn off your phone, isn't it?
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:09 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


During a show my android phone turned itself on and starting buzzing due to a recurring alarm. I have never dismantled a device and removed its battery quite so quickly. Fucking Earth refused to swallow me whole too, which is all I wanted at that moment.

vanar sena, try the Google Fucking Earth Swallow You Whole app. It's in the Market. Despite being released by Goog, it may require root access - YMMV.

Caveat: no one who's used it has ever provided feedback yet on it... but that could be a good thing.
posted by IAmBroom at 7:10 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Some of them do have annoying shutdown sounds though. So if you remember five minutes into the event that you didn't turn off your phone and power it off, everyone around you will be treated to a loud "WHOOOSH - DOODLEE DOODLEE DOODLEE DOO!"

I don't know about all phones, but mine won't do that if I silence it first, which I always do because it might come on accidentally in my pocket. I don't worry about this because of possible interruptions, I worry about it because if it comes on in my pocket and it isn't silent it'll make that "DRRRROOOID" noise and my wife will laugh at me.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Could he just have changed his ringtone to "Cough"?
posted by RobotVoodooPower at 7:12 AM on January 11, 2012 [31 favorites]


Kadin2048: "Perhaps new concert venues can be built with metallic foil or cladding in the walls, such that cellphone signals are just blocked passively, without the use of active jamming?"

I am curious to know if that would be considered illegal too.
posted by zarq at 7:12 AM on January 11, 2012


It's pretty hilarious to me that so many people can't seem to figure out how to use their phones in a very basic way. Every time someone says "....turn it OFF?" in that sad tone of abject bewilderment I can only picture the computer smashing scene from Zoolander and giggle helplessly.
posted by elizardbits at 7:13 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


My wife sings opera. My wife has been known to tuck her phone into her bra. She has also been known to forget that said phone is still with her. Her ring tone is the theme song from Aqua Teen Hunger Force. I think you can see where this is going.
posted by Eddie Mars at 7:14 AM on January 11, 2012 [35 favorites]


He is probably mentally ill or a mental health outlier of some sort. Even if his life experiences did not result in him comprehending and valuing the cultural experience of listening to art music in a shared environment, people simply do not behave like that in front of thousands of other people.

....Seriously? People do behave like that. They're rude idiots, yeah, but there are rather a few people who do behave like that. You'd be surprised how many -- and what they insist upon: I used to usher for the show STOMP, and we had a very strict "No flash photography" policy - not just because of the whole "you ain't supposed to be taking pictures without permission anyway" thing, but also because if you've got a show where people are tossing brooms and sinks and garbage cans around, having a flash go off in the middle of a show when they're trying to concentrate is DANGEROUS. (We once had some jackass take a flash picture right in the middle of one of the routines, and it startled one of the cast and she bungled her throw on a quarterstaff, and it flew off the stage and hit an audience member.)

And even so, you would be surprised how many people insisted that their purchase price of a ticket meant they had earned the right to take photographs of the show, if that was what they wanted to do. Other people's safety? Screw that -- they'd paid for the show, and if they wanted to take a flash photo, then they would!
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:14 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm surprised no one has mentioned texting as an annoyance. Sometimes I wish I were 6'5" and 250 lbs of muscle so I could convincingly stare down someone who texts during a movie.
posted by desjardins at 7:15 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


On contemplating it, I actually think the solution here is to create special phones with ringtones that are only audible to one person. Would that be possible? If so, it would be awesome.
posted by koeselitz at 7:17 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Although they are an organization that has been roundly criticized here in the past, I have a feeling some of the commenters here would approve of the Augusta National's policy on cell phones during the Masters Golf Tournament: no phones allowed, period. If you are caught with one you will be kicked out and lose the tickets you might have paid thousands for. The person whose name the tickets are under may lose the right to buty them again. They enforce the rule for everyone, even members of the press.
posted by TedW at 7:17 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


My parents are pretty bad for phones going off in movies. I find that young-ish people who use their phones a lot are usually fairly good about switching them off if there's a warning. It's more often older people who forget about their existence, and find putting them on silent about as easy as landing an Airbus 380, who are the problem.

At the Globe theatre though, I did see a young person who had the phone switched on, answered it, and held an extended conversation right in the middle of the performance. But the Globe is pretty bad because of the tourists, usually several phones will ring during a play.

We can't really tell what was going through this guy's head though. Maybe he was a confused non-tech-savvy person who thought it was someone else's phone, or panicked and didn't know how to silence it. Maybe he was an asshole who thought he was too important to switch his phone off. Maybe he smugly thinks of himself as a technological trailblazer helping people to a democratic new world, maybe he was reluctantly dragged there by a partner and enjoyed pissing off those stuffy classical music types. Maybe he was mentally ill. We'll probably never know.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:19 AM on January 11, 2012


I saw something similar happen at a Wilco concert once. They were touring behind Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and I was down front right up next to the stage. So was a guy who was pretty obviously rolling. At one point his phone rang during the middle of a song and he answered it. He was pretty much standing right in front of Jeff Tweedy, who brought the whole concert to a halt, and embarrassed the hell out of the guy by telling him they didn't want to interrupt his phone call by playing loud music while he was trying to have a conversation.
posted by dortmunder at 7:21 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Boy, then it's a good thing that there's an announcement right before the show starts asking you to turn off your phone, isn't it?

Those announcements are nice but aren't there for absolutely every time you need your phone to be silent. I personally just keep mine on vibrate because there are so many times per day (meetings, meals, etc.) where I don't want my phone announcing to everyone that I have phone call or email or something.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:21 AM on January 11, 2012


Yeah, you need to turn your damn phone off. Not on silent, not on vibrate. Turn it off. You aren't that important. Sorry.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:22 AM on January 11, 2012


....Seriously? People do behave like that. They're rude idiots, yeah, but there are rather a few people who do behave like that. You'd be surprised how many -- and what they insist upon: I used to usher for the show STOMP

Well I think we're talking about different domains. In this case it is the 4th movement of Mahler's symphony. The attitudes and behaviors involved are already differentiated from that of general shows.
posted by polymodus at 7:22 AM on January 11, 2012


Those announcements are nice but aren't there for absolutely every time you need your phone to be silent.

Yeah, but they ALWAYS have them at plays, concerts, and movies right before the show starts; that's what we're talking about, not meetings or dinners.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:23 AM on January 11, 2012


I turn my phone on silent because for some reason, I miss all text messages that would have come in while my phone was off. I then sit on it, just in case, though I have never had my silent phone make noise. I am not distracted by calls I might be missing, or texts, or whatever, but I don't trust coat check with my phone, either, and it is rarely feasible to leave it at home.
posted by jeather at 7:26 AM on January 11, 2012


Orchestral sabotage!

Manoeuvres in the Dark
posted by Sailormom at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Well, not to descend into hypotheticals, but he could be a heart transplant surgeon or some shit. If the headline was "child dies because heart surgeon turns his cell phone off while enjoying rich guy symphony" we would be howling with rage.

Then etiquette is to check the phone. I worked at a historic theater and we had doctors do this on occasion. If they got a page an usher would discreetly inform the doctor of such and they would take the call in the lobby. If this doesn't work then you shouldn't be there.
posted by cjorgensen at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


And the Lincoln Center doesn't hold 75,000 people. Apparently a regular performer in the NY Philharmonic earns around 90k, not to mention Gilbert probably receives in excess of a million. So if the concert was only in front of 2,700 people, that's about 3% of what the average football stadium holds. Doing that basic math makes the front row at $150 seem relatively cheap.

You have a really optimistic view of the supply/demand curve of classical music for the American public.
posted by chundo at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


There are a lot of people out there who consider unfettered cell phone use a basic human right that trumps any and all conventions of social decorum. I know this because I work in a library.
posted by The Card Cheat at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [25 favorites]


Well I think we're talking about different domains. In this case it is the 4th movement of Mahler's symphony. The attitudes and behaviors involved are already differentiated from that of general shows.

Dude, the fact that it's the 4th Movement of Mahler's symphony rather than a Wilco concert doesn't matter. I've worked in and attended shows in across all domains, and it doesn't matter-- the symphony, the opera, a revival of Death of a Salesman, John Cage performing 4'33 -- doesn't matter. There are jerks in all those domains who think that they're special snowflakes that can leave their cell phones on and the rest of us should just get over it.

I mean, hell, there's someone in this very thread who just about said that very thing.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


It's more often older people who forget about their existence, and find putting them on silent about as easy as landing an Airbus 380, who are the problem.

In college, I had a professor of Byzantine history who was a million years old. He would set his cell phone on the table in front of him during every class, as if he was expecting an important call, but his phone never rang. I took three classes with him and he did it in all of them.

Finally, in one class, his phone did ring. He immediately jumped as if someone had fired a gun, grabbed the phone and started press buttons, seemingly at random. The phone kept ringing for probably 30 seconds. When it finally stopped, he relaxed and went back to teaching. Five mintues later the phone rings again, and he goes through the same routine: jumps, grabs phone, presses random buttons. His phone went off four times that day.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 7:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


I actually think the solution here is to create special phones with ringtones that are only audible to one person. Would that be possible? If so, it would be awesome.

Electrodes. I think that would be very awesome.
posted by carter at 7:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Yeah, but they ALWAYS have them at plays, concerts, and movies right before the show starts; that's what we're talking about, not meetings or dinners.

Not my nieces' school play that someone's cell phone went off in a few weeks ago! But yes you are right my comments in this thread don't really apply to the actual concert that is the subject of the post.
posted by burnmp3s at 7:29 AM on January 11, 2012


tbh I don't even keep the ringer on when I'm home alone. The purpose of my phone isn't for others to disturb me at their leisure, it's for ME to disturb them at MY leisure.
posted by elizardbits at 7:30 AM on January 11, 2012 [37 favorites]


This is where I, the will-not-carry-a-phone-ever guy, sits back and smiles smugly.
posted by davelog at 7:32 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


In this case it is the 4th movement of Mahler's symphony. The attitudes and behaviors involved are already differentiated from that of general shows.

I'm not sure where you're from, but in NYC this is not true at all. People go to these things with no appreciation for music because someone is taking them, or because they were handed off tickets, or because they just want to be seen there and tell people they went there. Even people with appreciation for the music can simultaneously love Mahler and be assholes. It's a world of contrast out there and the concert halls aren't necessarily full of learned appreciators invested body-and-soul into what is going on.

Hell, when was a small child, my grandmother would buy me a shitload of dollar-store candy and drag me down to Lincoln center on what felt like a regular basis to see classical music recitals. And there I would be, hopped up on sugar and bored out of my skull and I can only imagine what people thought of me and, more specifically, her.
posted by griphus at 7:33 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"There is an annoying quirk with iPhones: even when set to vibrate, alarms can still sound audibly"

Yeah, I've filed bugreps on that. Silent means silent, dammit -- if that switch is down, there should never ever be a sound emitted from the speakers.


The problem is that people often want to silence ringtones but still be awakened by an alarm (e.g. when sleeping). Or they want to listen to music but not hear ringtones. The on/off switch can't capture all three possibilities (all sounds, only "intentional" sounds, no sounds at all), and Apple chose the first two. It's not ideal, I agree.
posted by jedicus at 7:33 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I remember sitting in quite expensive (gifted) seats at the Metropolitan Opera for a performance of L'elisir d'amore where a woman sitting behind me hummed along with "Una furtiva lagrima." I could hardly believe it.
posted by slkinsey at 7:36 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Better solution: leave your phone in the car.

Best solution: A quiver of poison darts and arrows by the woodwinds and strings.
posted by Alvy Ampersand at 7:38 AM on January 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


I wonder if people leave phones on because they want to be able to record interesting disruptions like this?
posted by bleary at 7:40 AM on January 11, 2012


When you're onstage addressing a giant audience, it might seem intimidating, but in fact you have the only, strongest bully pulpit in the room. You can do FAR more than you might think, and get the audience to do exactly as you say, within reason.

This has gotten to be an epidemic at both concerts and at stage performances (see Hugh Jackman and Daniel Craig link above). If conductors and actors are willing to break character mid-stream, then it's time for a little pre-emption.

"So before we begin, I'd like everybody to get your cell phones out. Do we all have them? Okay, now on the count of three, we'll all turn them off together. One, Two, THREE.

"Now hold up your phones, high in the air! Show them to everybody around you! Let's have a round of applause; we're now all officially unreachable by the outside world!"
posted by phenylphenol at 7:42 AM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


1) alarms will still ring in airplane mode

Seems like a further reason to not use airplane mode during a concert.

However, while there may be situations where airplane mode might be more desirable than just shutting the phone off, watching a concert really isn't one of 'em.

Well, yeah, I think that's the point. Airplane mode is good for, well, airplanes, as well as say traveling somewhere and you want to make sure you don't get dinged for roaming, but it's hardly useful for situations like a concert or movie.
posted by kmz at 7:43 AM on January 11, 2012


An eyewitness account, in prose not tweets (via Alex Ross).
posted by underthehat at 7:45 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Forget jammers, why not just use cell-blocking paint or wire on the walls? Make the concert hall or theatre into a Faraday cage. Put a notice outside to let those on-call know about it.

Then put in a bar that serves a nice stout.
posted by ODiV at 7:45 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I know the conversation has moved on to other situations where people with phones are arseholes, which I fair enough, but I just thought I'd chime in to say that a performance of the last movement of Mahler 9 is just about the worst piece in the standard repertoire to have a phone go off (multiple times).
posted by ob at 7:45 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Americans tend to be rude and self-centered.
New Yorkers tend to be the worst.
I've enjoyed this thread immensely (having left NY years ago).
posted by ahimsakid at 7:46 AM on January 11, 2012


about as easy as landing an A380

Under nominal conditions, the autopilot/fms on a modern airliner can basically fly the thing for you. I'd say "dead-stick landing a modern jet fighter" would be a more apt aviation analogy. But still, point taken.
posted by Alterscape at 7:46 AM on January 11, 2012


"...a woman sitting behind me hummed along with "Una furtiva lagrima."

I can see this happening without the person's being aware of it. Listening habits of the home brought to the concert hall, and the person might not even know that they do it. (Which is not to defend them, as they're still a jackass.)

I did get into an argument at one concert over a concert-goer's sing-along, the argument being whether I could hear them or not. If I can't hear you, why the fuck would I be complaining? How would I even know that you -- sitting behind me -- was even singing if I couldn't fucking hear you? And yes, I'm here to listen to that guy on stage and NOT you... *grumblegrumble*
posted by Capt. Renault at 7:49 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"There is an annoying quirk with iPhones: even when set to vibrate, alarms can still sound audibly"

Yeah, I've filed bugreps on that. Silent means silent, dammit -- if that switch is down, there should never ever be a sound emitted from the speakers.

The problem is that people often want to silence ringtones but still be awakened by an alarm (e.g. when sleeping). Or they want to listen to music but not hear ringtones. The on/off switch can't capture all three possibilities (all sounds, only "intentional" sounds, no sounds at all), and Apple chose the first two. It's not ideal, I agree.


1. This is not just an apple thing. Every mobile phone I've ever had that had an alarm function still sounded the alarm audibly no matter what other settings were on. I know this because I've used my mobile phones (Ericssons and Samsungs and iPhones) as alarms when travelling for work for years.

2. I consider this a feature, not a bug. I don't want to hear a ding every time I get an email or text or whatever in the middle of the night, but I'm now at the point where I use my phone as my alarm even at home, so being able to silence the phone completely (I even turn off vibrate because the buzzing is loud on my nightstand) but still be able to use it as my alarm is pretty important to me. It is the most ideal solution given that a two way switch can't cover all possibilities. If silence truly silenced everything, wanting all other sounds off but keeping the alarm on would require editing settings for each of the apps/functions (mail, SMS, twitter, whatever else beeps at you). As it is, the worst case scenario is you hit the silence toggle and have to turn off your alarms separately if you have any. Or...

3. ...Turn off the phone completely if you need to ensure silence. Not that hard; I do it all the time.
posted by misskaz at 7:50 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


At least people's watch alarms and hour chimes don't go off any more.

I remember going to church with my parents, in the early '80s. The service was supposed to be done at noon, so everyone left their chimes on, and as the pastor went long, they'd start going off in ones and twos, till he finally gave in and closed up his talk.
posted by nomisxid at 7:51 AM on January 11, 2012


I will say that if you are going to text, you do not want to be anywhere near me in a Broadway theatre. My husband and I have had more than a few people removed from shows for doing this.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:51 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


To those people annoyed by others at expensive events - why do you not say anything? I would have NO compunction about telling a talker to zip it or asking a texter to shove it up their ass (not necessarily in those words*). I'm 99% sure that a 60 year old lady is not going to take a swing at me. I don't confront teenagers at the movie theater because there's too much of a chance it will end badly.

*My actual words: "Hi, that's really distracting, can you save that for intermission?"
posted by desjardins at 7:52 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Americans tend to be rude and self-centered.
New Yorkers tend to be the worst.


Humans tend to be rude and self-centered.

my original response: YEAH WELL FUCK YOU TOO BUDDY
posted by elizardbits at 7:52 AM on January 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


And even so, you would be surprised how many people insisted that their purchase price of a ticket meant they had earned the right to take photographs of the show, if that was what they wanted to do.

See this is the problem right here. Buying a ticket to an event for a lot of people means an undeniable right to do whatever said ticket-buyer wants. Because we as a society are so selfish, we act as if other people literally aren't there, but rather props or scenery, the way the ruling class in the British raj literally didn't notice non-white "natives."
posted by xetere at 7:52 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I honestly can't figure out how to COMPLETELY silence the phone so it doesn't vibrate or anything when I get a call.
Remove its battery.
posted by Flunkie at 7:53 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


To those people annoyed by others at expensive events - why do you not say anything? I would have NO compunction about telling a talker to zip it or asking a texter to shove it up their ass (not necessarily in those words*).

We do. You would also be surprised how many people respond with the "I paid for my ticket, I can do what I want" attitude.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 7:56 AM on January 11, 2012


Thanks, underthehat, that clears up some things.

It didn't go off repeatedly, but it did ring persistently for about 5 minutes at least.

That suggests to me that the offender was more likely confused than a self-important asshole. Someone like that would have answered it or texted or left the room. More likely he'd got it recently or changed the ringtone, and thought it was someone else's phone going off.
posted by TheophileEscargot at 7:56 AM on January 11, 2012


I honestly can't figure out how to remove the battery on an iPhone. ;)
posted by desjardins at 7:57 AM on January 11, 2012


Flunkie: Remove its battery.

Disassembling an iPhone each time you want to silence it seems a bit excessive.
posted by gman at 7:57 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


God, people, get off his back. Maybe he stole the phone and just hadn't figured out the password yet. Geez.
posted by heyho at 7:57 AM on January 11, 2012 [8 favorites]



Disassembling an iPhone each time you want to silence it seems a bit excessive.


Turn it off.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 7:58 AM on January 11, 2012


misskaz: "3. ...Turn off the phone completely if you need to ensure silence. Not that hard; I do it all the time."

Nokia and most Android phones will switch themselves on partially to sound an alarm. Don't know if that happens with iPhones too, which would be very annoying since you can't remove the battery on an iPhone.
posted by vanar sena at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2012


I honestly can't figure out how to remove the battery on an iPhone.

This can actually be done quite easily with a hammmer, brick, or similar smashy device. The next time my annoying coworker's rings for the 5th time during a staff meeting I will snatch it away and make a helpful video all about it.
posted by elizardbits at 7:59 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, that doesn't happen to iPhones.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 8:00 AM on January 11, 2012


He likes the symphony enough to pay $150 for a front-row ticket, but not enough to turn off his phone?

The front few rows at the NY Phil are actually not the most expensive seats... the view is better if you're a few rows back. But except for the annual gala and New Year's Eve, the most expensive tickets are only $124 (plus a $2 facility fee).

Front row orchestra tickets can sometimes be acquired for under $40.
posted by Jahaza at 8:00 AM on January 11, 2012


"...a woman sitting behind me hummed along with "Una furtiva lagrima."

I can see this happening without the person's being aware of it. Listening habits of the home brought to the concert hall, and the person might not even know that they do it.


She certainly fucking well knew she was doing it once she was shushed (shushing those who think their conversation is more important than the performance is not all that unusual at the Met). After that, rather than shutting up, she tried to hum along so softly that no one could hear her. Which is impossible of course. So her humming faded in and out of audibility, making it even more distracting. I wasn't surprise when she and her friends bolted immediately at curtain rather than participating in the curtain calls, as there was no doubt she would have received a piece of more than a few minds once the applause was finished.
posted by slkinsey at 8:00 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Turn off the phone completely if you need to ensure silence. Not that hard; I do it all the time.

Exactly what I do as well.

My gripe is that the switch is described as "ring/silent" in the official docs and the icon (a bell, with a slash over it when you turn it to the "silent" position) states that the phone will not make noise. Given the meaning of "silent" in the English language, I would expect silence from the device, and given the meaning of a bell and a slash through it, I would expect alarm bells not to sound. Both the icon (alarms do sound) and the name (silent still allows noise) are incorrect.

If the switch was described as a "mute ring" switch, fine, but it's not.

I gripe about this because Apple's normally very good at this sort of thing.
posted by eriko at 8:01 AM on January 11, 2012


I thought the iPhone was supposed to be a miracle of usability?
posted by Houstonian at 8:01 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


Blatant, almost animal aggression, at the symphony, over a ringing phone. Maybe I’m new to the whole symphony culture but to me it seemed a bit much.

It's a serious business to a lot of the people who are there. I'm trying to imagine what would have resulted if this had happened at La Scala.

It's not a baseball game. There's a definite set of social rules for the symphony, just as there are for, say, Wimbledon, or the poker game in Dom's basement.
posted by Capt. Renault at 8:01 AM on January 11, 2012


All show programs should include instructions for turning off the most popular cell phone models.
posted by orme at 8:01 AM on January 11, 2012


EmpressCallipygos: "Dude, the fact that it's the 4th Movement of Mahler's symphony rather than a Wilco concert doesn't matter. "

I think it does, actually.

I went to several rock concerts last year, including Weird Al and Twisted Sister. At all of them, people recorded the shows on their phones, usually with the approval of the band. Weird Al actually wandered down into the audience, grabbed someone's phone and clowned around for the camera, making faces into it, before handing it back to the guy who was taping. During Lola, he encouraged the audience to wave their cells in the air, as if they were lighters. Dee Snider sang into someone's cell at Hammerstein Ballroom and also encouraged people to wave their cells in the air.

There is an attitude at many rock concerts that is established by the band: 'Yeah, you heard the message: you're not supposed to tape us. You're gonna, we know it and we're not gonna fight it. So let's make the most of it."

This does not happen at the Philaharmonic or at a Broadway show. That difference, one where tacit approval is not given, really does matter.
posted by zarq at 8:02 AM on January 11, 2012


A man I know who did a lot of public speaking and moderating of events would say to the audience beforehand, "Please remember to turn your cell phones BACK ON when we're done." And you'd immediately see dozens of people in the crowd then reaching for their pockets. For some reason this worked so much better than the "please turn your phones off" message.
posted by stargell at 8:02 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


...just so some upper class snob won't have their symphony disturbed.

I am far from "upper class" but goddammit, if wanting to listen to a group of highly-trained professional musicians perform a symphony without having some asshole's phone going off makes me a snob, then I'm the biggest snob you'll ever meet.
posted by usonian at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2012 [30 favorites]


After that, rather than shutting up, she tried to hum along so softly that no one could hear her. Which is impossible of course. So her humming faded in and out of audibility, making it even more distracting.

Let us not forget that in the case of Jack Aubrey and Stephen Maturin, the cause of this behavior was a somewhat derpy minded person in the throes of extreme music appreciation and not part of a cunning plot to ruin everyone's evening.

Maybe you should've sailed around the world with her and got her sloth drunk, is what I appear to be saying.
posted by elizardbits at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


If you are that important, you probably aren't at the movies, a concert, or a show because you're on call and you don't want to have to leave in the middle.

If you are that important, you will likely have someone who will answer the phone for you and fetch you as needed. Or you will have a seat somewhere (like a box) where you can discreetly duck out.
posted by CosmicRayCharles at 8:03 AM on January 11, 2012


You'd think they'd install phone jammers if people pay so much for tickets.

Huh? If it's wrong for BART to turn off cell phone service on train platforms to prevent protests, then it's wrong for the owners of a public theatre to jam legal communications just so some upper class snob won't have their symphony disturbed.

This row over cell phones must have been like people complaining over the noise from horns when the horse-less carriage came into use. It's here to stay. Get over it.
posted by three blind mice at 6:40 AM on January 11 [2 favorites +] [!]


Such a shame that this attitude exists, and is seemingly justified by changes in technology. There is nothing in this situation that can not be reduced to "someone was incredibly rude". If it was one set of rings, or one call, I would not come to this assessment. Accidents happen, and usually the perpetrator is massively embarrassed and quickly remedies the situation. That's fine, after all it was an accident.

What is not fine is the repetition and the inability or unwillingness to TURN IT OFF, you rude arrogant F***

Of course, I guess if you are an upper class snob then you don't get to expect good manners from phone etiquette. Honestly the prejudice dripping from this post 3 blind mice, is ridiculous, such a shame. And for the record, before you make assumptions, I am not upper class, and I do not like or attend classical music concerts. I do, however, expect people to respect reasonable boundaries.

Do you believe that if you sat next to me and insisted on talking throughout a similar performance (or even for just 10 minutes), I should not be upset. Even if I asked to be quiet because you were ruining the performance ?

There is only one answer that allows you to get away from this with any decency, and I doubt its the one you want to go with.
posted by Boslowski at 8:05 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


IAmBroom: "vanar sena, try the Google Fucking Earth Swallow You Whole app. It's in the Market. Despite being released by Goog, it may require root access - YMMV.

Caveat: no one who's used it has ever provided feedback yet on it... but that could be a good thing.
"

I looked at the demo, but it would only swallow partially.
posted by vanar sena at 8:06 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This row over cell phones must have been like people complaining over the noise from horns when the horse-less carriage came into use. It's here to stay. Get over it.

If someone starts honking a car horn in the middle of a concert, then they're assholes as well.
posted by Sticherbeast at 8:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


"Dude, the fact that it's the 4th Movement of Mahler's symphony rather than a Wilco concert doesn't matter. "

Every venue, kind of music, culture, etc. has its own expectations and etiquette. It's also not acceptable to go into the aisles and start dancing at a New York Philharmonic concert, whereas I imagine this would be okay at a Wilco concert (whoever that is).
posted by slkinsey at 8:07 AM on January 11, 2012


elizardbits: " Maybe you should've sailed around the world with her and got her sloth drunk, is what I appear to be saying."

It's never pretty when the sloth gets drunk. She falls out of the tree. Lands on people. Claws everywhere. No one expects a drunken pointy sloth to drop in on them like Snoopy's vulture. Soon the bruised, flattened people stage an intervention. Take away her flask. Tell her to cling to the ground. Switch her to pills instead of booze.

It's sad, really.
posted by zarq at 8:07 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I went to several rock concerts last year, including Weird Al and Twisted Sister. At all of them, people recorded the shows on their phones, usually with the approval of the band. Weird Al actually wandered down into the audience, grabbed someone's phone and clowned around for the camera, making faces into it, before handing it back to the guy who was taping. During Lola, he encouraged the audience to wave their cells in the air, as if they were lighters. Dee Snider sang into someone's cell at Hammerstein Ballroom and also encouraged people to wave their cells in the air.

Apples and oranges. We're not talking about making videos, we're talking about taking calls.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 8:10 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


> Yeah, shit happens. Nobody turns an iPhone off really (except all the people in here that will
> reply that they turn theirs off all the time) and the vibrate switch gets toggled accidentally
> all the time.

If I don't feel able to leave the phone at home but I'm going some place where it's really important that the ringer doesn't go off (e.g. in a courtroom, where before the judge comes in the bailiff announces that any cell phone that rings while court is in session will be taken up and you won't get it back) I pull the battery out. A lot easier to do that than figure out all the silent/vibrate/ring once/ring softly/ring loudly/tase-your-leg options and possible gotchas. No battery may possibly not prevent the phone from being tracked, but it isn't going to ring.

Pulling the battery may not be possible on Apple products, I dunno. But it's an absolutely essential function, a deal-breaker if it's not supported.
posted by jfuller at 8:10 AM on January 11, 2012


slkinsey: "Every venue, kind of music, culture, etc. has its own expectations and etiquette."

The best part is attending western classical music shows in India, where half the crowd is applauding between pieces and the other half is rolling its eyes disapprovingly at the former. A hilarious clash of cultures.
posted by vanar sena at 8:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Flunkie: Remove its battery.
Disassembling an iPhone each time you want to silence it seems a bit excessive.
OK, then let me amend my suggestion:

(1) Buy a phone that you don't have to disassemble just to remove its battery.

(2) Remove its battery.
posted by Flunkie at 8:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Welcome to metafilter, where Mahler is now the exact equivalent of Dee Snider.
posted by elizardbits at 8:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


Every cell phone I've owned, smart or dumb, has an "all silenced" volume level where it doesn't ring or beep (alarms explicitly included), but the vibration is still off. Sometimes it's set by dialing the volume all the way to 0, but tapping volume down again will turn on the vibration, and sometimes it's the other way around and it's the bottom-most setting on the scale, but it's there. Disclaimer: I have never used an iPhone, so maybe Apple has missed the boat on this.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


If the point hasn't been made sufficiently clearly in this thread, for the record: Shutting down an iPhone is a 100% reliable way to prevent it from ringing or vibrating. iPhones do not "turn themselves back on" for alarms, etc. Off is off.
posted by slkinsey at 8:12 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


This is not just an apple thing. Every mobile phone I've ever had that had an alarm function still sounded the alarm audibly no matter what other settings were on. I know this because I've used my mobile phones (Ericssons and Samsungs and iPhones) as alarms when travelling for work for years.

My old Treo (oh, how I miss it) had two options for muting.
The volume buttons, which woud mute the ringer and could also mute alarms and other chirps if you used it that way _and_ an honest to god, physical switch which turned off the speaker itself.

Of course, wouldn't fit in with todays "switchless" aesthetic and probably added another 50 cents to the cost of the phone.
But, man, was it useful when you forgot to turn off the ringer or left the volume too loud.
posted by madajb at 8:13 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


EmpressCallipygos: " Apples and oranges. We're not talking about making videos, we're talking about taking calls."

No, we're talking about people leaving their cell phones on and using them during a concert, whereas in a different venue such behavior would be considered distracting and rude.
posted by zarq at 8:14 AM on January 11, 2012


Sloths don't get drunk. They get debauched.
posted by stargell at 8:17 AM on January 11, 2012 [6 favorites]


"Every venue, kind of music, culture, etc. has its own expectations and etiquette."

The best part is attending western classical music shows in India, where half the crowd is applauding between pieces and the other half is rolling its eyes disapprovingly at the former. A hilarious clash of cultures.


Concert culture and etiquette in classical music has actually changed a lot over time, although perhaps not so much over the last 100 years or so. Back in the 19th century and earlier when opera houses were generally designed as a "horseshoe" with a flat orchestra section for the "public" and all the patrons in private boxes, it was commonplace that those in the boxes would carry on conversations, come and go as they pleased, visit those in other boxes, retire to other rooms for gambling, etc. and only pay attention to the parts they really liked. It was also common practice that a successful opera would run performances ad infinitum until people got bored of it, and the patrons in the boxes might attend every single performance of a 20 performance run.
posted by slkinsey at 8:18 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


Sometimes it's set by dialing the volume all the way to 0, but tapping volume down again will turn on the vibration, and sometimes it's the other way around and it's the bottom-most setting on the scale, but it's there.

I was pretty annoyed when my Galaxy S II didn't do this out of the box. I have two modes I want my phone to be in: vibrate or completely silent. Except for media or people's voices I don't ever want to hear a sount out of it. When I got this phone I was surprised to find out I couldn't change from vibrate to silent without going into the settings. Finally I got a free app from the market which turns on and off silent with a touch.
posted by ODiV at 8:22 AM on January 11, 2012


A sound out of it. What's a sount?
posted by ODiV at 8:22 AM on January 11, 2012


To split hairs even further, we're talking about using your cell phone in a way that drowns out the performance everybody else is trying to listen to. If it were possible for a single cell phone to ring at volumes substantially exceeding those used by Twisted Sister's amplifiers, you'd get punched for that too.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:24 AM on January 11, 2012


Apple could solve this easily. When you flip the switch to "silent", it is completely silent and locked. If you still want alarms to ring, swipe the screen. The phone is now locked.
posted by desjardins at 8:26 AM on January 11, 2012


Years ago, I saw a performance by a comedy troupe that used to exist in Minneapolis called Idiot Box. Right in the middle of their performance, a cell phone went off. They stop their performance, looked around the audience for the culprit, and then launched into an incredibly detailed musical performance about what an asshole he was. Seriously, it was like something from Broadway. And just as the musical number reached its crescendo, the offender stood up in the audience.

"I am a doctor!" he shouted. "I got this call because of a medical emergency. YOU GUYS ARE THE ASSHOLES." Then he stormed out of the theater.

The comedy troupe stood on stage for a moment, stunned. And then the music started again, and they began their song again, but this time the lyrics were about how sorry they were.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


At the Globe theatre though, I did see a young person who had the phone switched on, answered it, and held an extended conversation right in the middle of the performance.

Happened to me when I was watching the first of the remade original Star Wars movies sometime in the mid-nineties, when a guy who was clearly a divorced father taking his kid to the afternoon showing was not just getting called and holding long conversations, but also calling people himself. At the time I was flabbergasted and insecure enough not to say anything off it, but in retrospect I wish I'd decked the fscker.

Switching phones to silent is usually good enough to avoid the problem, but in the case of one friend I've got this is counterproductive. He has his phone switched to silent as a habit, finding it impolite in any situation to let it make a noise, but unfortunately he tends to jump a metre in the air when he gets buzzed instead. Some not very nice people have made use of this, sadly.
posted by MartinWisse at 8:30 AM on January 11, 2012


If it was an emergency why didn't he leave immediately?
posted by exogenous at 8:30 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Because if was all a joke.
posted by Bunny Ultramod at 8:31 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


...John Cage performing 4'33...

From what I know of Cage, a phone ringing during this piece would not be considered a disturbance at all. Isn't the point that we're meant to listen to the sounds around us in the venue?

If he was still alive I'm sure we'd have Annoying Cell Phone Symphony No. 1: the price of admission is your phone number, and a master list is then distributed to all members of the audience. At the twirl of the conductor's baton you can begin calling who you like, but no one is allowed to answer any calls. After a set amount of time the conductor calls for a crescendo, then all phones switched at the same time.

Some asshole would probably interrupt it by playing a french horn or something.
posted by Chichibio at 8:36 AM on January 11, 2012 [29 favorites]


[Ugh, "...switched off..."]
posted by Chichibio at 8:37 AM on January 11, 2012


"...a woman sitting behind me hummed along with "Una furtiva lagrima."

Fortunately there is an established etiquette for dealing with noise distubances (including humming) during an opera performance.

On the first occurrence, you turn around in your seat and stare at the offender for a second, then turn back around. This generally will silence the "unintentional" noisemaker, i.e., someone who was simply momentarily thoughtless.

On the second occurrence, you turn, not necessarily all the way, but in the general direction, and say "shhh." That will take care of all but the most incorrigible cases.

For the hard-core offenders, the third time they make noise, you can say, aloud (not whispering, but at a normal conversational level), "Will you please be quiet." Note the period at the end of the sentence: it should be spoken like a declaration, not a question.

At this point, you've signalled to everyone surrounding the noisemaker that they are going to be miserable unless they put pressure to bear, which means that a dozen or so concertgoers are going to be glaring at the original noisemaker and just waiting for the next peep.

In my experience, cell phones are not nearly as disturbing as plastic shopping bags and puffy jackets held on the lap, either of which sets up a constant background noise of crackling and creaking right on the edge of audibility.
posted by La Cieca at 8:37 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


If he was still alive I'm sure we'd have Annoying Cell Phone Symphony No. 1: the price of admission is your phone number, and a master list is then distributed to all members of the audience. At the twirl of the conductor's baton you can begin calling who you like, but no one is allowed to answer any calls. After a set amount of time the conductor calls for a crescendo, then all phones switched at the same time.

That sounds like the kind of twee thing Improv Everywhere would do.
posted by kmz at 8:39 AM on January 11, 2012


I am secretly holding on to the fantasy that ALAN GILBERT forgot to turn off the cellphone in his trousers and when it started ringing, didn't hear it right away, and then had to bluff his way out of it.
posted by chavenet at 8:39 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Here is another, more detailed account that clearly shows just how big of an idiot this person was. He absolutely should have been kicked out.

La Cieca — I try to see every "Met Opera in HD" broadcast I can, and several times I've heard people eating snacks they've smuggled in, during the performance. Like carrots or apple slices. *CHOMP CHOMP* Always brings out my Inner Misanthrope.
posted by Eyebeams at 8:43 AM on January 11, 2012


Chichibio: what you describe is startlingly similar to this, "a large-scale concert performance whose sounds are wholly produced through the carefully choreographed ringing of the audience’s own mobile phones," or this, a "Concertino for Cell Phones and Orchestra." I don't think I'd attend either one, frankly.
posted by orthicon halo at 8:48 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Huh? If it's wrong for BART to turn off cell phone service on train platforms to prevent protests, then it's wrong for the owners of a public theatre to jam legal communications just so some upper class snob won't have their symphony disturbed.

The most expensive seats in that concert were $118. The cheapest seats (and there were many available at that price) were $33. The ringing phone ruined the evening for all the people in the $33 seats as well. $33 hardly makes this something accessible only to "upper class snobs."
posted by yoink at 8:58 AM on January 11, 2012


I can't tell you how many times I am sitting in a meeting where the organizer has asked people to turn their phones off and.... 15 minutes in, a cell phone starts ringing, and ringing, and ringing. The offender sits there like a lump, probably hoping that Prince or Princess Charming will leave a message.

The SECOND time it starts ringing (usually 2 minutes later), the offender pulls the phone out of his/her pocket and leaves the room to take the call. Because, obviously, it must be a really important call if they called back so soon? (where is that sarcastica font when I need it...)

Most classical music venues aren't exactly doing well, financially, and most of their audience hates stuff like this. A kick-out policy might be the best thing that the venues can do for themselves, because if this happened to me more than once, I'd stop going to concerts and I would let it be known why.

If I were a musician, particularly a big name, I might try to negotiate a kick-out policy in my contract. Horrors!

Of course, given the level of self-entitlement out there, a kick-out will probably turn into a police matter. I don't think of Lincoln Center's ushers as being particularly burly.
posted by Currer Belfry at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2012


I went to several rock concerts last year, including Weird Al and Twisted Sister. At all of them, people recorded the shows on their phones, usually with the approval of the band.

One of the things I absolutely LOVE about Largo in LA is that they repeatedly and very earnestly tell people before the show that if anyone turns on any electronic device of any kind during the show they will be asked to leave. The last fucking thing I want is to watch a band past a forest of little glowing screens.

Interestingly, at every show I've been to at the Largo that announcement is followed by spontaneous applause from the audience (and it's always been rigorously obeyed).
posted by yoink at 9:08 AM on January 11, 2012


I love the fact that all the "ever growing number of reports" were tweets backed up by a single blog-post, and am quite bemused that people here think this is worthy of a Mefi story.

But then again, and while the default mode on my mobile is usually silent, I'm perhaps different from most Mefi-ers in that other people's mobiles or any other extraneous noise doesn't usually bother me; I suppose it is something about being used to Asian urban spaces that train you to automatically filter out residual sounds and focus on the "important" ones. So much so that I often can't concentrate in A/C rooms, or rooms with heating etc; they are too quiet. I usually make it a point to open the window to let some traffic noises in.

Now, flash photography on the other hand....
posted by the cydonian at 9:09 AM on January 11, 2012


They should be taken outside and shot. It's the only language these insufferable yahoos understand.
posted by Decani at 9:12 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Most classical music venues aren't exactly doing well, financially, and most of their audience hates stuff like this. A kick-out policy might be the best thing that the venues can do for themselves, because if this happened to me more than once, I'd stop going to concerts and I would let it be known why.

The pre-show warnings are actually pretty effective. There are, thank god, only a small number of utter arseholes (a few have popped up in this thread) who actually think it's o.k. to take a phonecall in the middle of a concert. I go to about 20-odd classical music concerts in the year and I only hear a phone go off two or three times a year, and it's usually quickly and embarrassedly stifled. When they do go off it's nearly always after intermission--I think people turn them on to check for messages etc. during intermission and then forget to turn them off again when they retake their seats. Some venues don't replay the "please turn off all electronic devices" warnings after intermission and that's always a mistake.

And yeah, in any large concert hall there are bound to be a few doctors and other specialists who are on call. And no, they don't need to have their phones on.
posted by yoink at 9:15 AM on January 11, 2012


I can understand being annoyed by a phone ringing but it baffles me that people are so annoyed by just the sight of a phone screen at a movie. If someone is silently checking their email, that's really more distracting than listening to people slurp their Coke, rattle their ice, crunch on their popcorn and M&Ms, or any of the other things that we take as the unavoidable cost of viewing a movie in a social setting? I find that very hard to understand.
posted by enn at 9:16 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


and am quite bemused that people here think this is worthy of a Mefi story

And yet, here you are, posting the 190th odd reply to this post.

I think it's always going to be interesting to try to figure out social etiquette in the face of new technologies.
posted by yoink at 9:19 AM on January 11, 2012


It was actually the marimba player fucking with the conductor.
posted by zippy at 9:20 AM on January 11, 2012 [19 favorites]


I can understand being annoyed by a phone ringing but it baffles me that people are so annoyed by just the sight of a phone screen at a movie. If someone is silently checking their email, that's really more distracting than listening to people slurp their Coke, rattle their ice, crunch on their popcorn and M&Ms, or any of the other things that we take as the unavoidable cost of viewing a movie in a social setting? I find that very hard to understand.

If you're in front of me, it's distracting, because I have to look past your bright light up screen to see the movie. The people make quiet noises I can't hear because the movie is playing, but I can see your screen.

It's not a huge deal for me, but I don't like it.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:21 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I can understand being annoyed by a phone ringing but it baffles me that people are so annoyed by just the sight of a phone screen at a movie. If someone is silently checking their email, that's really more distracting than listening to people slurp their Coke, rattle their ice, crunch on their popcorn and M&Ms, or any of the other things that we take as the unavoidable cost of viewing a movie in a social setting? I find that very hard to understand.

You don't need to understand why it bothers people. You just need to know that it genuinely does bother large numbers of people. That means that if you do it--knowing that it's going to be a serious distraction to those people--you're being an inconsiderate, selfish asshole.
posted by yoink at 9:22 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


I can understand being annoyed by a phone ringing but it baffles me that people are so annoyed by just the sight of a phone screen at a movie

In most cases, it's a very bright point of light against a dark field, and our eyes are very good at spotting that -- at least, I know mine are. If they're holding it up, so that it's in front of the screen, well, they're holding a phone in front of the screen.
posted by eriko at 9:23 AM on January 11, 2012 [8 favorites]


You can't trust people to behave anymore. (My lawn. Get off of it.)

When I open my own movie theatre (I've thought about it), I'm investing in a network of these devices for every bloody corner of the place.

Movie starts, switch on. Movie ends, switch off.
posted by rokusan at 9:24 AM on January 11, 2012


I think it's always going to be interesting to try to figure out social etiquette in the face of new technologies.

Yeah! Fuck you and your stupid message board comment! w0000t!

(What?)
posted by rokusan at 9:25 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


If you're in front of me, it's distracting, because I have to look past your bright light up screen to see the movie.

In every movie theater I've ever been in there are runner lights along the aisles, there are lights along the walls—there are literally hundreds of light sources in the theater, every one of them brighter than a phone screen. But I can see how the movement in your peripheral vision could be a distraction.

You don't need to understand why it bothers people. You just need to know that it genuinely does bother large numbers of people. That means that if you do it--knowing that it's going to be a serious distraction to those people--you're being an inconsiderate, selfish asshole.

I loathe the smell of fake popcorn butter. It makes me nauseated and is very distracting if the person is sitting nearby. Does that make people who eat popcorn at the movies inconsiderate? Of course not—I know perfectly well that that's part of the deal of being in a public space.
posted by enn at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm here to listen to that guy on stage and NOT you...

Which is exactly what I always want to say to the people at concerts and in clubs who applaud when they recognize that the performer has begun playing a song that they, the patron, really like. This behavior is no longer new, but I remember when I first encountered it, and I was very surprised. It wasn't just one person, but a significant number of people. It had never happened at any of the clubs or concerts I'd been to in Boston, but at that concert in NYC, people seemed to think it was normal. Then it spread, and happened everywhere I went. I hate it. I don't care that you and your friends recognize the song. If you really like it, why don't you stay quiet and listen to it, and let me and the rest of the audience listen to it?
posted by Kirth Gerson at 9:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


In every movie theater I've ever been in there are runner lights along the aisles, there are lights along the walls. . .

There are EXIT signs in the wings, but lights on the walls? Not while the movie is playing. Runner lights are generally concealed by the seats along either side, and they are nowhere near as bright as an illuminated cell phone screen, especially when they appear in the center section of the theater which has no lights - it's designed to be an uninterrupted black landscape all the way up to the screen.
posted by Think_Long at 9:34 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Every venue, kind of music, culture, etc. has its own expectations and etiquette. It's also not acceptable to go into the aisles and start dancing at a New York Philharmonic concert, whereas I imagine this would be okay at a Wilco concert (whoever that is).

When I saw Wilco at Massey Hall in Toronto a few years ago, Jeff Tweedy took time out between songs to berate the crowd for sedately sitting on their hands instead of whooping it up. Which was kind of interesting, given that they'd been playing one laid-back mid-tempo number after another. I know Toronto audiences have a reputation for being unresponsive, but damn... if you want people to dance, you've got to earn that shit. You can't just demand it.
posted by Crane Shot at 9:34 AM on January 11, 2012


In every movie theater I've ever been in there are runner lights along the aisles, there are lights along the walls—there are literally hundreds of light sources in the theater, every one of them brighter than a phone screen. But I can see how the movement in your peripheral vision could be a distraction.

Obviously this could be tested, but to me the phone screen looks a lot brighter. Also, the lights in a theater that are designed to be there are along the walls, along the floor, not in my line of sight with the screen. Like I said, not a big deal, but it does bug me a bit.

I loathe the smell of fake popcorn butter. It makes me nauseated and is very distracting if the person is sitting nearby. Does that make people who eat popcorn at the movies inconsiderate? Of course not—I know perfectly well that that's part of the deal of being in a public space.

Well, obviously there are limits, but if enough people find something annoying then you shouldn't do. Do you think I should be allowed to do whatever I want and other people should have to deal with it because it's part of being a public space? I'm guessing you don't. Somethings are okay to do in public, some aren't, and we figure out which ones are through the development and enforcement of social norms.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 9:35 AM on January 11, 2012


Cydonian, I had that same thought as I put the post together, but this seemed like something that would take off and I wanted MeFites to be in on it. I learned about it from a friend who was there, and I was careful to use only tweets from last night-- original sources, if you will.

The story now has almost as much buzz as an iPhone set to "vibrate," with at least two other concertgoers blogging about it, an item at the Baltimore Sun, and tweets from the New Yorker's Alex Ross, NPR, WETA, etc.
posted by underthehat at 9:36 AM on January 11, 2012


From my experience you have to work really hard to forget to remember to turn your phone off in a symphony/opera/theatrical performance. They remind you to do so very loudly at the start. People who don't just can't be bothered. Or they have no idea of how to behave in these situations - it's not like the 19th century when people used to wander on stage randomly, right behind the performers.

This is not quite the same thing but I once sat beside a woman in Disney Hall in LA who spent the first 30 minutes of the concert putting on her make-up. With lights and mirrors so she could keep checking the effect.
posted by lesbiassparrow at 9:37 AM on January 11, 2012


Welcome to metafilter, where Mahler is now the exact equivalent of Dee Snider.

Actually, I'm looking forward to the Twisted Sister release of Des Knaben Wunderhorn.
posted by gimonca at 9:39 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


...but at that concert in NYC, people seemed to think it was normal.

Assuming we're talking about rock concerts, how long ago are we talking about? I have never seen anything different than what you describe, and I've been going to shows in NYC for over ten years now. It's always the exact same thing: people recognize a song from the first two or three bars, cheer, the musician stretches out the opening long enough for them to cheer, and then gets into the song. I don't think I've ever seen a musician do anything but beam happily when this happens, and I don't think I've ever seen one try to sing over their applause.
posted by griphus at 9:40 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I loathe the smell of fake popcorn butter. It makes me nauseated and is very distracting if the person is sitting nearby. Does that make people who eat popcorn at the movies inconsiderate? Of course not—I know perfectly well that that's part of the deal of being in a public space.

See the "large numbers of people" part of my comment. Clearly the vast majority of people are not distressed by the smell of popcorn and do not find that having that smell in the movie theater distracts them from watching the movie--so, alas, that is "your problem" and not the popcorn eater's problem. Just as it would be "your problem" if you had a fear of sitting in darkened rooms or of people who wear glasses.

It is unreasonable and impolite to do things in the movie theater that considerable numbers of people in the audience will find distressing and distracting. It is not unreasonable to do ordinary and expected things that might, unfortunately, distress or distract certain very rare individuals with atypical responses.

Having to explain this feels like trying to explain social mores to an autistic person.
posted by yoink at 9:42 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Which is exactly what I always want to say to the people at concerts and in clubs who applaud when they recognize that the performer has begun playing a song that they, the patron, really like. This behavior is no longer new, but I remember when I first encountered it, and I was very surprised.

Just how old are you? I can't think of a live rock or pop album where this doesn't happen--going back to the 60s. It also happens on quite a few live Jazz recordings going back to at least the 40s.
posted by yoink at 9:46 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Ditto griphus. And I've never thought of it as anything approaching a new phenomenon - I know the first time I read a description of the characteristic applause and cheer you get when the audience recognizes their favorite song, the audience in question was reacting to the opening of "Honkey Tonk Women" when it was just a few years old.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 9:46 AM on January 11, 2012


On a sidenote: it's kinda strange to read people taking about "turning their iPhone all the way down". Me with my ancient phone thought, to this day, that a phone can be "on", and then it can be "off". But apparently the iPhone has some sort of a slide of oniness and offiness. Well I never.
posted by Pyrogenesis at 9:48 AM on January 11, 2012


It is unreasonable and impolite to do things in the movie theater that considerable numbers of people in the audience will find distressing and distracting. It is not unreasonable to do ordinary and expected things that might, unfortunately, distress or distract certain very rare individuals with atypical responses.

Sure—the social norm here just doesn't seem to be as clearly established as other commenters seem to believe it is. Obviously there are some people who feel strongly about it and are very vocal. It's not at all clear that these people are especially numerous, at least to me. I saw the reference to the Alamo Drafthouse above but I've never personally seen a pre-movie announcement that referenced texting, or any electronic device usage other than phone calls/ringers.

Also, kindly cut the armchair pathologizing of strangers on the internet the fuck out.
posted by enn at 9:49 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Movie theaters and theatrical theaters do not tell the audience: "Don't eat popcorn with butter topping because it might nauseate the person next to you. " If they did, maybe you'd have a point. But they don't.

They do, however, tell you to turn off/silence your cell phones in various (and often multiple ways) before the show begins. It's as simple as that.
posted by tittergrrl at 9:49 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


When I open my own movie theatre (I've thought about it), I'm investing in a network of these devices for every bloody corner of the place.

Assuming you're in the US: That may seem like a good idea until the FCC fines you $5,000/day.
posted by thewalrus at 9:55 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


This last summer I was spontaneously invited to a proper Japanese tea service. It took place in this beautiful treehouse dome/hut in the center of a lush garden. This was my first time attending a service and I didn't know any of the procedures or customs, but I had deep respect for the honor of getting to participate. It was a weekly teaching service as well, so the leader was explaining and correcting all of the movements and steps involved.

We were barefoot in this little wooden room, listening and following along, when my dumb-phone started exploding. In one concentrated act of brilliance I whipped that puppy out of my pocket, flipped it open, flipped it closed and then hurled it to my side, about 20 feet out the window, to land softly on the grass by the tree. I apologized, bowed and carried on. As you do.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:55 AM on January 11, 2012 [9 favorites]


Obviously this could be tested, but to me the phone screen looks a lot brighter.

And, the phone screen moves -- and one of the key things the human visual system does is spot movement, esp. in peripheral vision. It's one of the reasons we're still around. In the dark, you don't notice as much movement, esp. with the bright light of the screen, but when the movement is itself a bright light, it jumps out.

This is *very* hardwired behavior for human -- indeed, we often perceive movement when it isn't there. Hell, that's how a movie works!

Aside: The Human visual system is a pair of somewhat, but not very, clever receptors sensitive to 300-750nm EM radiation, backed by a very very clever evolved image processor. That processor, however, can be fooled easily.
posted by eriko at 9:55 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Also, kindly cut the armchair pathologizing of strangers on the internet the fuck out.

I said that explaining this to you was "like" explaining social mores to an autistic person. It's also like banging my head against a brick wall. Please don't send the emergency services around to my house to save me from the terrible self-harm I'm doing.
posted by yoink at 9:57 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


At my aunt's funeral, a guy, sitting two rows behind the family, let his cell phone rang three times—i.e., he recieved three different calls—before he left the sanctuary to take care of his (obviously) very very important business.

I sympathize with people who forget to turn their phone off. (My phone rings so rarely that I often forget that I have it with me at all.) I sympathize with people who have a hard time figuring out how to silence the ring. (When I got my last phone, I posted an Ask trying to find a model that would be silenced immediately if any of the exterior button on the phone was pressed. This previously common feature doesn't seem to exist any more.)

But, hell, people, if your phone rings and an inopportune time, silence the ringer quickly, however you can, then USE THE OFF BUTTON.
posted by BrashTech at 9:58 AM on January 11, 2012


"But apparently the iPhone has some sort of a slide of oniness and offiness."

It's like a dimmer! But for sound.
posted by iamkimiam at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2012


Bringing you phone is nothing, if you really want to fuck with them do this.
posted by Artw at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Suddenly I'm reminded of a Bloom County strip with Steve Dallas, Opus, and Portnoy at a bar:

STEVE: You guys mind if I smoke?
PORTNOY (angrily): Only if you don't mind if I burp pastrami belches into your face.

And then the next panel is Steve spewing out clouds of smoke at Portnoy, who is loudly burping back at him -- and Opus is sitting in the middle of them both looking really put-upon.

I think of this because: the people who use the cell phones to text are Steve Dallas, and the people who crunch their ice loud and whisper to their neighbors are Portnoy, and the rest of us are Opus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 9:59 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I said that explaining this to you was "like" explaining social mores to an autistic person.

Yes, you couched your accusation of pathology in metaphorical language for deniability, because you are being passive-aggressive, and now you are lying about it. Poorly. I repeat: cut it the fuck out.
posted by enn at 10:02 AM on January 11, 2012


...how long ago are we talking about?

Early '60s. Mostly folk acts, but some rock. It most definitely was not the norm - until it was. And the artists may or may not have been pleased, but back then none of them altered the number to allow for the extra noise; they just kept playing. In Boston clubs, the clapturbators would get shushed when the phenomenon first surfaced, but before long everybody just gave up.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:04 AM on January 11, 2012


Yes, you couched your accusation of pathology in metaphorical language for deniability, because you are being passive-aggressive, and now you are lying about it. Poorly. I repeat: cut it the fuck out.

Didn't you just say "stop characterising people you don't know on the Internet"?

Seriously, dude, take a deep breath.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:06 AM on January 11, 2012 [5 favorites]


Nokia and most Android phones will switch themselves on partially to sound an alarm.

Not true, vanar sena. Android phones may override "Volume=0"/Mute settings to ring an alarm, but OFF is OFF, and the phone can't possibly override that - it requires booting without a program running to force a reboot.

Airplane mode probably still allows alarms to ring, as well.
posted by IAmBroom at 10:09 AM on January 11, 2012


Didn't you just say "stop characterising people you don't know on the Internet"?

No, I didn't say anything like that. I specifically referred to pathologizing, that is, using fabricated medical diagnoses to label people as crazy so that they can be dismissed. Why are you putting words that I didn't say in quotes? Please don't do that.
posted by enn at 10:10 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


So it's been the norm for nearly 50 years. I think you've lost this one.
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 10:10 AM on January 11, 2012


Yes, you couched your accusation of pathology in metaphorical language for deniability, because you are being passive-aggressive, and now you are lying about it. Poorly. I repeat: cut it the fuck out.

Learn to read.
posted by yoink at 10:11 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Which is exactly what I always want to say to the people at concerts and in clubs who applaud when they recognize that the performer has begun playing a song that they, the patron, really like.
My "favorite" example of this is a live version of "Layla" that Eric Clapton released as a single or whatever. Before he starts the song, he says something like "See if you can spot this one", and then proceeds to play music that (as it seems to me) is basically unrecognizable as "Layla". Immediately, people in the audience give loud, enthusiastic "YEAH!" calls and such. The music continues, still basically unrecognizable, and eventually he starts singing the recognizable lyrics. At which point there are once again loud, enthusiastic "YEAH!" calls.

I always imagine that the initial YEAH-ers are thinking something like "Eric will really be impressed if I pretend I recognize this!"
posted by Flunkie at 10:14 AM on January 11, 2012


Or maybe my earlier example was wrong - and it's Enn, Dark Messiah and Yoink that are Steve Dallas and Portnoy and the rest of us in the thread are Opus.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:15 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


> It's not at all clear that these people are especially numerous, at least to me. I saw the reference to the Alamo Drafthouse above but I've never personally seen a pre-movie announcement that referenced texting, or any electronic device usage other than phone calls/ringers.

All the time, I use my cellphone perfectly effectively as a flashlight. Would you be cool if I took a flashlight and shone it back at people behind me?

This is particularly true if you're within a few seats of someone - if the movie scene is at night, then the cell phone will be perceptually brighter than the entire screen - even if it isn't, it's unbelievably distracting.

I'm paying $10++ to have a darkness, a big screen, and a great sound system. If texting became the norm in movie cinemas, I would never go to a movie cinema again.

WTF is wrong with people, anyway? Why would you pay good money to go to a movie and then start texting people without worrying the slightest about bothering anyone around you? GO OUTSIDE if it's so important!
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:16 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


No, I didn't say anything like that. I specifically referred to pathologizing, that is, using fabricated medical diagnoses to label people as crazy so that they can be dismissed. Why are you putting words that I didn't say in quotes? Please don't do that.

Sorry, that's totally different.

PS - it's called paraphrasing. You can learn all about it in your fancy dictionary.

Either way, you're throwing a fit. "Please don't do that"(C)(TM)*

* patent pending enn Enterprises, all rights reserved, you may not quote without full context and attribution.
posted by Dark Messiah at 10:17 AM on January 11, 2012


Ah, yes, the famous summary quotes.
posted by enn at 10:18 AM on January 11, 2012


WTF is wrong with people, anyway? Why would you pay good money to go to a movie and then start texting people without worrying the slightest about bothering anyone around you?

Personally, I always wonder why someone would pay good money to go to a movie and then not watch it. Seriously, if they wanted to waste twelve bucks that badly, I'd have gladly taken it from them.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:18 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


and while I haven't thrown pennies into the back of someone's head, I have thrown paper balls at them, quite successfully I might add.

The key idea is not to make eye contact when they look around, and then do it again the moment they start texting again. Cowardly, yes, but I don't feel the need to potentially get punched by some anti-social person. The idea is to bother them as much as they bother me.
posted by lupus_yonderboy at 10:19 AM on January 11, 2012


Guys, cut it out.
posted by cortex at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"One man's cell phone ringer interrupting a public performance is another man's collaboration."
- Brian Eno
posted by hellbient at 10:21 AM on January 11, 2012


"Brian Eno could not possibly have been thinking of the adagio from the Fourth Movement of Mahler's Ninth."
— Rob
posted by Eyebeams at 10:24 AM on January 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


You know how when it's really dark you can use your smartphone as a flashlight? Yeah, it works the same way in the theater while you're texting in the stadium seating in front of me, you-know-who-you-are.
posted by damo at 10:27 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


GO OUTSIDE if it's so important!

Hah, I was at Melancholia and some guy was futzing with his phone in front of me, then he eventually left and went outside for an extended period, only to come back in and walk through my field of vision during the last 10 seconds of the movie. He then made exaggerated scuttling along the floor motions before he got to his seat. I think people like that are just clueless.

I hadn't really thought about about before now, but I see those warning signs before a lot of films, and I'd always interpreted them to mean "Turn off your phone" - not "Don't use certain functions on your phone."
posted by carter at 10:30 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's clearly needed here is a tactical application of Patton Oswalt.
posted by Halloween Jack at 10:32 AM on January 11, 2012


I hate the very thought of a phone call interrupting any kind of artistic performance.

Here's what I do: I turn my phone up REALLY LOUD, and when I get a call in the performance venue I stand up and yell: "PLEASE STOP THE PERFORMANCE IMMEDIATELY. SOMEONE IS ATTEMPTING TO CONTACT ME ON MY TELEPHONIC HANDSET. I REPEAT, CEASE THE PERFORMANCE AT ONCE. TELEPHONY IS IMMINENT".

Then I take the call - often it's my friend Larry, but sometimes it's just a wrong number - then I eat a couple popcorn, and maybe then I take a little "me-time" to scratch my ass - it gets pretty sweaty sittin' down all the time.

Then I call out: "YOU MAY NOW RESUME THE ARTISTIC PERFORMANCE WHICH IS BEING HELD IN A STATE OF PAUSE, AS THE TELEPHONIC CONVERSATION WHICH I REFERRED TO EARLIER AS A SUFFICIENT REASON FOR THE SITUATION OF STASIS HAS CEASED."

Then people start to clap and cheer spontaneously and cry out en masse, "THREE SWIFT HOORAYS FOR QUIDNUNC THE CONSIDERATE!" and they give me a standing ovation. I often reply with a short speech of thanks, and then I sign some autographs.

Then, after all that is over, I resume my seat and give a nod to the conductor, and he replies with a cheery wink and restarts the performance of Mahler, or whatever other talentless old motherfucker wrote this horrible, ear-splitting bullshit.

But that's just polite ol' me.
posted by the quidnunc kid at 10:34 AM on January 11, 2012 [17 favorites]


The Card Cheat

I'm sorry; I turned the ringer off as soon as it rang... and I *had* to keep texting! My landlord could have been slipping into a diabetic coma.
posted by The Confessor at 10:37 AM on January 11, 2012


Well, this is still better than the composition of Mahler's tenth, which was interrupted by death.
posted by WalkingAround at 10:38 AM on January 11, 2012 [10 favorites]


Americans tend to be rude and self-centered.
New Yorkers tend to be the worst.


Well, do you blame us when we have all these damn tourists coming in and forgetting to turn off their cell phones when they go see shows and movies and stuff because "Oh I just have to tell Betty back home that I'm sitting in the very same theater where they did that musical we were in in high school?" I mean, fuck that noise....


I am, of course, kidding.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 10:41 AM on January 11, 2012


So it's been the norm for nearly 50 years. I think you've lost this one.

I didn't expect to 'win' this one. I wish I could, but I know it won't happen. This norm is not an improvement over the old norm.
posted by Kirth Gerson at 10:43 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Blatant, almost animal aggression, at the symphony, over a ringing phone. Maybe I’m new to the whole symphony culture but to me it seemed a bit much.

I think this is a result of pent up anger at all of the rest of the times in life that there enjoyment of something has been harmed by somebody's rudeness. Most of the time, we tolerate it as a culture, so when it gets called out its cathartic.

I was at a performance by the late great mime Marcel Marseau. He was in the middle of a beautiful and very serious piece when a cell phone went off in the audience. The audience of about 2,000 reacted as if they'd been collectively punched in the nuts - groans of agony and all. Marseau didn't drop focus and the show went on, but we all grinned pretty smugly as the offending audience member was led from the auditorium by an usher, presumably for his own safety.
posted by Joey Michaels at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2012


When I saw Wilco at Massey Hall in Toronto a few years ago, Jeff Tweedy took time out between songs to berate the crowd for sedately sitting on their hands instead of whooping it up. Which was kind of interesting, given that they'd been playing one laid-back mid-tempo number after another.

I saw Wilco two years ago in Concord, NH, and Jeff Tweedy actually asked a friend of mine to stop clapping because he was off-rhythm and throwing off the band.
posted by gauche at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


At the Globe theatre though, I did see a young person who had the phone switched on, answered it, and held an extended conversation right in the middle of the performance.

That's a dick-punching.
posted by Mr. Bad Example at 10:47 AM on January 11, 2012


Tickets to the New York Philharmonic and Broadway shows are really expensive. I would be furious if someone interrupted what for me are basically a couple times in a lifetime experiences [due to the expense] with their stupid phone.

For the next line it helps to read the Heard on Goldman Sachs Elevator twitter feed.

You are not that important that you must get a call at all times.

The people who are "the 1%" tend to believe that they are that important. The woman who was complaining about being in line because her husband was 'rich' from a few years ago is a fine example of the "we are entitled" class. Tales of Hollywood starts acting entitled or Congressmen on a plane refusing to hang up their phone are more examples. Or the email from an investment banker talking about how what they do is important. If Dr. Stout is to be believed - the sociopaths end up in the 1% far more than the 4% of the population.

I await the public outing of the Philharmonic Phone Phiend where we Phind out they don't even like Classic Music but like 2 types of music - Country and Western.

(and to be fair and balanced - I bring you the tale of John Lewis - no one person is inherently more valuable than anyone else. Not sure if the denial of Rep. Lewis was good or bad.)
posted by rough ashlar at 10:58 AM on January 11, 2012


You don't need to understand why it bothers people. You just need to know that it genuinely does bother large numbers of people. That means that if you do it--knowing that it's going to be a serious distraction to those people

If 'bothering a large number of people' is the only criteria in life, there'd still be people sitting in the back of a bus and drinking only from certain water fountains.
posted by rough ashlar at 11:03 AM on January 11, 2012


If 'bothering a large number of people' is the only criteria in life, there'd still be people sitting in the back of a bus and drinking only from certain water fountains.

....Dude, there's rather a staggeringly profound difference between "segregation" and "texting in a movie theater."
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:06 AM on January 11, 2012 [13 favorites]


It is sad and unfortunate people are selfish and/or clueless when they go out in public be it a movie theater or some classical performance at the Lincoln Center. There are a lot of people that feel that the laws don't apply to them. They'd be the first to complain if someone else's phone went off, but they're not going to turn theirs off. They're OK driving and texting because they won't crash. They can drink and drive. They don't need their seat belt. They're better than you. Or at least they think so.

Cellphone disruptions aren't new. Before it was the iPhone marimba tone, it was the goddamn Blackberry default ring. Or the goddamn Nokia ring. Oh god, remember that "hello Moto" ring that came with some of the Motorola phones for a while?

I've been putting my phone on silent or turning it off for nearly 20 years while others at performance let their goddamn phones wring incessantly.
posted by birdherder at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2012


At a Michelle Shocked show, there was a guy in the very front row with a little point-and-shoot camera, and me about midway back with my DSLR. At the start of the show, Michelle said how still's were OK, but no video, and no audio recording (she got her professional start when someone released a secret recording of her playing a jam festival, has kind of a thing about control now). About three songs into the set, she stops and tells the guy in the front row to put his camera way, because he's just being too distracting with it. She was OK with my bigger camera because I was using it with at least an attempt at consideration.

At the two Frank Vignola shows I've attended, he keeps an eye open for someone taking a picture, so that he can stop mid-song, and have the whole trio pose for a quick shot, makes the same joke he made the night before, and then on with the show. You get the impression that if no one was trying to take a picture through the eve, he'd actually have been disappointed.

There is no universal behavior.
posted by nomisxid at 11:07 AM on January 11, 2012


You don't need to understand why it bothers people. You just need to know that it genuinely does bother large numbers of people. That means that if you do it--knowing that it's going to be a serious distraction to those people

If 'bothering a large number of people' is the only criteria in life, there'd still be people sitting in the back of a bus and drinking only from certain water fountains.


If my cell phone goes off in a concert, I'll draw plenty of Rosa Parks comparisons to myself as people tell me to fuck off. That would surely be a solid, intelligent, accurate, sensible comparison to draw.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:10 AM on January 11, 2012 [7 favorites]


"No Android device would ever be so rude."

Well, the Droid X2 I have on my desk (for testing purposes, not actually my phone, thank goodness) likes to make that ridiculous "DROID!" noise seemingly at random. By which I mean whenever you turn it on, whenever it decides to turn on by itself, whenever you plug in a USB cable, or whenever it just thinks it hasn't made enough noise lately. It's as if the designers were so impressed with themselves for making a phone capable of performing such feats as turning on or accepting a USB cable that they found a celebratory ditty necessary. The only way I've found to control it (and believe me, I've looked) is to go into the settings app and turn down the system ringtone volume, but then it randomly turns itself back up again sooner or later. There's seemingly no option for "NEVER MAKE THAT BLOODY DROID SOUND AGAIN AND ONLY MAKE NOISE WHEN YOU ACTUALLY HAVE SOMETHING IMPORTANT TO SAY."
posted by zachlipton at 11:13 AM on January 11, 2012


obligatory Trigger Happy TV links.
posted by nomisxid at 11:14 AM on January 11, 2012


....Dude, there's rather a staggeringly profound difference between "segregation" and "texting in a movie theater."

You completely missed the point of the comment which was in response to "You don't need to understand why it bothers people." Of course there's a large (enormous) difference, that's the point of the comparison. Context matters.
posted by ODiV at 11:18 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Would somebody please just go ahead and post that guy's phone number so we can all call him randomly for the next several days?

(Just kidding. Mostly.)
posted by Ron Thanagar at 11:19 AM on January 11, 2012


You completely missed the point of the comment which was in response to "You don't need to understand why it bothers people." Of course there's a large (enormous) difference, that's the point of the comparison. Context matters.

It's still a fatuous comparison. The context of their argument was about buttered popcorn smell as compared with texting during a movie. Civil disobedience in response to enforced segregation is in a different universe than those two things.
posted by Sticherbeast at 11:21 AM on January 11, 2012


All I can think of is this scene from "Inside Man:"
['Stevie' is gathering keys and cell phones from hostages; she stops at one man who does not have a cell phone and waves Dalton over]
Dalton Russell: What's your name?
Peter Hammond: [Nervously] Peter.
Dalton Russell: Peter what?
Peter Hammond: Peter Hammond.
Dalton Russell: Where's your cell phone, Peter Hammond?
Peter Hammond: [Trembling] I left it at home.
Dalton Russell: [Putting his arm around Peter's shoulder] Peter, think very carefully about how you answer the next question, because if you get it wrong, your headstone will read, "Here lies Peter Hammond, hero, who valiantly attempted to prevent a *brilliant* bank robbery by trying to hide his cellular phone, but wound up,"
[presses gun muzzle into Peter's cheek]
Dalton Russell: "getting *shot* in the fucking head." Now, Peter Hammond, where's your cell phone?
Peter Hammond: I telling you, I did, I left it at home.
[Dalton goes through the other bank employees' cell phones until he finds Peter Hammond's number; he looks momentarily at Peter, then calls it]
Peter Hammond: [Peter's phone can be faintly heard from his office playing "Gold Digger"]
(Meanwhile, my all-time favorite movie theater is in a former parking garage buried deep beneath an office building. You lose all traces of a possible cell signal before you even get to the ticket taker.)
posted by argonauta at 11:22 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


If 'bothering a large number of people' is the only criteria in life, there'd still be people sitting in the back of a bus and drinking only from certain water fountains.

o.O
posted by zarq at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2012


I think using any sort of comparison between the civil rights movement and being a dick in a movie theater is the Pearl Harbor of ill-conceived analogies.
posted by griphus at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2012 [4 favorites]


It's still a fatuous comparison.

So you would agree that you do need to understand why something genuinely bothers a large number of people then?
posted by ODiV at 11:25 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Put another way, the comparison is that the two things are nothing alike. Which then garnered surprised responses stating the two things are nothing alike.
posted by ODiV at 11:28 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I saw a few comments about it not being clear as to why glowing screens and extraneous sounds are especially inappropriate in, respectively, movie theaters and music halls. Intuitively, distractions interfere with people's ability to process information. If there's a pixel off the corner of your eye or if there's an intermittent even if soft beeping, the mental overhead of . This is a quantitative fact, backed up by studies ranging from the effect of office cubicle chatter being detrimental to worker productivity to aircraft noises reducing how children perform in school zones situated near airports. One might think that these results don't apply to media and performance arts, but the truth is opposite if you consider the actual complexity of the storytelling and structure in movies and music. Just yesterday I came across a paper about how the very act of listening to music will temporarily increase your overall sensitivity to noise for some duration; the paper shows that trained musicians generally have higher noise sensitivity. So, there is scientific fact behind these apparent social conventions.
posted by polymodus at 11:28 AM on January 11, 2012


No, the responses garnered were that it is a insensitive and stupid thing to do to bring up the history of the oppression of black people in America while trying to make a point about cell phone usage. The context to the surprise was the insensitivity, not the content.
posted by griphus at 11:29 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


The violin player doesn't get a million dollar salary.

the star violin soloist might though.

(Well OK, they don't get salaries but appearance fees, and probably even the most sought after violinist in the world probably doesn't clear a million dollars in a year...)
posted by gyc at 11:31 AM on January 11, 2012


typo: *the mental overhead of filtering out the noise means less mental resources devoted to learning about the actual information of interest.*
posted by polymodus at 11:31 AM on January 11, 2012


When people's phones go off in the concert hall, their phone number must be ascertained and published on big placards so people leaving the hall can write it down.

Later during the following month people can call the person and "thank" them personally.
posted by Twang at 11:34 AM on January 11, 2012


griphus: I think you're right that that is the reason for the responses and I agree that the comparison wasn't the smartest one to write. I didn't read the responses that way obviously, but I'll cut out the derailing now.
posted by ODiV at 11:34 AM on January 11, 2012


gyc: " (Well OK, they don't get salaries but appearance fees, and probably even the most sought after violinist in the world probably doesn't clear a million dollars in a year...)"

About ten years ago, I read a report that Itzhak Perlman makes between $45,000 and $50,000 per concert appearance. It would not surprise me if he made over a million dollars per year, if we include cd and dvd royalties. On the other hand, he usually donates some of that fee to charity, so who knows?.
posted by zarq at 11:43 AM on January 11, 2012


I think using any sort of comparison between the civil rights movement and being a dick in a movie theater is the Pearl Harbor of ill-conceived analogies.

No, it is the Egg McMuffin® of ill-conceived analogies.
posted by birdherder at 11:45 AM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I was onstage singing the Poulenc Gloria with Robert Spano conducting, and an audience's cell phone rang during the Domine Deus. The maestro rolled his eyes SO HARD I think the audience could see them, and sort of defeatedly slumped his shoulders. Cell phone: OFF.

Also, there is a special circle of hell reserved for people who try to take photos or video during classical music performances. Hi! We can see you! We can see your flash, or your blinky red record light, or your autofocus lamp! Cut it the fuck out!
posted by KathrynT at 11:47 AM on January 11, 2012


This is giving mer a great idea for a reworking of The Music of Eric Zann:

Louder and louder, wilder and wilder, mounted the shrieking and whining of that desperate viol. The player was dripping with an uncanny perspiration and twisted like a monkey, always looking frantically at the curtained window. In his frenzied strains I could almost see shadowy satyrs and Bacchanals dancing and whirling insanely through seething abysses of clouds and smoke and lightning. And then I thought I heard notes that were not from the viol; Calm, deliberate, purposeful, mocking notes from far away in the west: Dooka-dooka-dooka Dooka-dooka Dook Dook.
posted by Artw at 11:49 AM on January 11, 2012


Also, there is a special circle of hell reserved for people who try to take photos or video during classical music performances.

This is now relevant.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 11:53 AM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


>Assuming you're in the US: That may seem like a good idea until the FCC fines you $5,000/day.

Memo to the FCC: how about you be on the side of the good guys, and require that all movie theaters and concert halls install phone jammers?

If you can't deal with the jamming for two hours, you can't deal with being present in a theater. It's that simple.
posted by Gordion Knott at 12:10 PM on January 11, 2012


The FCC has a problem with active jamming. AFAIK ensuring cell signals do not permeate your venue is fine.
posted by ODiV at 12:12 PM on January 11, 2012


For those wondering, it appears it was an iPhone alarm after all. From the comments on the linked article, from someone who was sitting four rows back:
The Daily Guru said...

I was in attendance last night, and no words can capture my frustration. But, what makes it worse is that if you're a bit of a tech-nerd, you will know that it was VERY unlikely that it was a phone call that was being ignored...the reality is a bit worse.

Due to the timing of the repeated ringing (I was about 4 rows behind and a section over, so I heard it VERY clearly), it was obviously an alarm that had been set on the phone for a certain time. The subsequent "rings" were the "snooze" timer that automatically goes off in intervals if the alarm is not stopped.

There were numerous times where the music itself had built to a volume where the phone could have been removed from a jacket/purse/etc and silenced, so the person in question was not only being rude, but outright dumb as well.

For me, I could not get back "in the zone" and properly appreciate the final minutes of the piece, as the interruption completely destroyed the energy in the room.

I do not believe there is any "real" solution to the issue, as it is unlikely that venues will invest in signal-blocking systems, and there will always be the one moron who ruins an exceptional evening of music. However, I was surprised that no ushers or security entered the hall before or during the incident to address the patron or remove them.

I do however give great accolades to Gilbert for how he handled the situation, as anyone who was there must agree that he had no other choice. Also, the performers remained complete professionals throughout, rarely looking anywhere but to their conductor while he handled it.
posted by funkiwan at 12:15 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


I'm sorry, but the greatest audience-shaming maneuver of all time is still John Barrymore's throwing a large fish at a coughing audience and saying "Chew on that, you damned walruses, and let the rest of us get on with the play!"
posted by Sidhedevil at 12:21 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Yeah, shit happens. Nobody turns an iPhone off really (except all the people in here that will reply that they turn theirs off all the time) and the vibrate switch gets toggled accidentally all the time.

See, I don't get this. People don't turn off their phone? What is the purpose of putting the phone on silence? So it goes off and I have to pull it out of my pocket and light the entire row? Or I have to leave every time it vibrates?

Turn off the fucking phone. This isn't hard, and yes, people actually do this.
posted by justgary at 12:25 PM on January 11, 2012


This post and the helpful follow up links with more detailed accounts from people who were there has had an extraordinary impact on my blood pressure level. I tried to figure out why I was seething and think I've got it.

I think all of us at some point have unwittingly done something distracting at a performance. Oh how I have hated myself when I've acquired a dry cough at the symphony or a dramatic play, and then the effort to put something like a throat drop in my mouth to shut it up has resulted in crackling noises. And it is possible for people to think they've turned off a device so not check, then have it go off. And so on. That's not what this incident is about.

Part of what makes me furious about this is that if people keep not turning off their devices despite advance notice to do so in concert, theatre, and symphony settings, eventually the venues will need to come up with a solution. Since it is also disruptive as heck to throw people out, I'll bet they start barring electronic devices. For everyone, including the polite 99% of attendees.

But birdherder has really hit on what is so infuriating about this incident. Why do some people think they are so special that they can just break the rules? This clueless wonder with the repeating alarm couldn't reach into whatever location he'd put his phone and power it off? Of course he could. He chose not to. Until humiliated into doing so. (Notice how little time it took for him to do it once Gilbert called him on it.)

I'm just fuddled at the number of people who feel entitled in this way. The people who talk on the phone in libraries, who text in movies, who park in handicapped spots when they have no disability at all, who drink and drive, who block traffic to pick or drop off passengers in illegal locations . . . what's up with that? I don't understand why some people think that they have a special entitlement to behave with extreme rudeness, or illegally, or dangerously, or all of the above. I hope it is just my advancing age that makes me feel their numbers are increasing.
posted by bearwife at 12:36 PM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


IAmBroom: "Not true, vanar sena. Android phones may override "Volume=0"/Mute settings to ring an alarm, but OFF is OFF, and the phone can't possibly override that - it requires booting without a program running to force a reboot."

I was getting ready to argue with you about this, but I decided to test this first and you are right. I guess I believed it to be the same feature as on my last Nokia phone.

So to summarize, not only am I an embarrassment to myself and my family (the phone went off during this very song), I am also too incompetent to turn off my phone correctly. This has been a good day.
posted by vanar sena at 12:42 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Folks, that guy in the audience has a name, you know. It's three blind mice.
posted by invitapriore at 12:44 PM on January 11, 2012


"...who park in handicapped spots when they have no disability at all..."

I used to get upset about this as well, until I saw some PSA in the subway stating, quite correctly, that not all disabilities are visible. And that's undoubtedly true. I'm sure that there is a fair bit of abuse of handicapped parking privileges. However, I'm no longer able to point to some guy walking and thinking that he in particular is gaming the system. Rage levels moderately decreased. FWIW.

posted by Capt. Renault at 12:45 PM on January 11, 2012


Capt. Renault: Yes but if they don't have the handicapped tag hanging from their rearview AND have no discernible disability, they're probably just jerks, right?
posted by Eyebeams at 12:50 PM on January 11, 2012


People don't turn off their phone? What is the purpose of putting the phone on silence?

The reason people don't turn off their phone, but rather set it to "silent," is basically the opposite: They don't see a purpose to turning it off.

When I'm in court, my cell phone is set to "silent." It doesn't ring or vibrate. If I need to open my calendar to check a date, or if I'm expecting a text from a client/witness/attorney, then it's very inconvenient for me to periodically wait for the phone to power-on and reconnect to a cell network. It's much simpler to be able to slip it out of my pocket a few times an hour, click a single button to check for new activity, and then put it away.

I do the same thing at movies, concerts, etc. (Sometimes I'll power-off, but not usually.) Why? Well, I suppose because it's simpler to click the "silent" switch than it is to hold-down the power button, wait a few seconds, then swipe the power-off prompt, and then wait to make sure the phone powers-off completely. Ditto turning it back on after the performance. I'll grant you that it's not a lot simpler, but it's simpler. And what's the difference? To reverse your question: If my phone doesn't ring and it doesn't vibrate, then what's the difference whether it's set to "silent" or powered-off?

I see people upthread talking about glitches and such, but let's set that aside. First, because there's also at least reference to a glitch where a phone turned itself on, so it's theoretically a problem on either side; and second, because that's not something I've ever experienced in many, many, many hours of having my phone set on silent. (It usually is.)

I think all of us at some point have unwittingly done something distracting at a performance.

When I was in music school, I took an upper-level group improv class. During an intense, quiet moment in the music, I accidentally knocked over an empty water bottle. It took a couple loud bounces. We had a half-joking conversation afterward about how it affected the piece, but damn would I have liked not to have done that.
posted by cribcage at 12:51 PM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


"...who park in handicapped spots when they have no disability at all..."

I used to get upset about this as well, until I saw some PSA in the subway stating, quite correctly, that not all disabilities are visible. And that's undoubtedly true.


Yeah, but it's only in the subways where you have to go by the honor system. Cars actually are supposed to have handicapped-parking permit tags in the windows and such, so that's a bit more strict.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 12:53 PM on January 11, 2012


The people who talk on the phone in libraries, who text in movies, who park in handicapped spots when they have no disability at all, who drink and drive, who block traffic to pick or drop off passengers in illegal locations . . . what's up with that?

I would point out that it's possible to park in a handicapped spot and not realize it; I know because I spent three hours parked in a handicapped spot and didn't notice until I came out to put money in the meter.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 12:57 PM on January 11, 2012


People who aren't narcissists are going to feel a permanent never-again sense of shame when their phone disrupts a performance. People who are narcissists probably aren't going to be affected by public shaming. That said, there was no other option for a piece like that but to make sure the interruption wouldn't recur. In any case I would have no problem with being escorted out without refund if I made that mistake, innocently or not.

My Android phone's silent mode also covers alarms unless the "Alarm sounds in silent mode" box is checked.

My big problem is figuring out how to completely silence my insulin pump. Best I can get is vibrate. I once had a priest sitting next to me in church ask if I were texting while I was adjusting my insulin. Very, very embarrassing.

It's not a baseball game. There's a definite set of social rules for the symphony, just as there are for, say, Wimbledon, or the poker game in Dom's basement.

I think the baseball game equivalent would be using a laser pointer on the eyes of the pitcher or batter.
posted by BrotherCaine at 1:04 PM on January 11, 2012


I know there are people with "silent" disabilities as I've done quite a bit of advocacy for people with disabilities, but I wasn't clear. I'm talking about people who deliberately (not inadvertently) park in handicapped spots who have no disability at all. The ones who do it because it is easier and closer and those spaces are often open.

I used to spend time working at a traffic calendar in a municipal court. It was amazing how many people would show up to contest tickets for parking in handicapped spots and speeding in school zone who simply could not understand why they should have to follow these inconvenient rules.

This attitude really frosts me.
posted by bearwife at 1:05 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Yes but if they don't have the handicapped tag hanging from their rearview AND have no discernible disability, they're probably just jerks, right?

>Cars actually are supposed to have handicapped-parking permit tags in the windows and such, so that's a bit more strict.


I would suggest that a non-visible disability may exist regardless of whether one has a permit tag or not. Personally, I'm comfortable with letting the disabled use the handicapped parking spot regardless of whether they're in compliance with the tag requirements, as the risk to their health probably outweighs the abuse which that system allows. But that's me.

posted by Capt. Renault at 1:05 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Hmm, I would have expected an usher to intervene before the conductor had to. Don't they act as bouncers sometimes?
posted by soelo at 1:05 PM on January 11, 2012


My old Nokia had a thing where you could turn the ringer off for a given amount of time after which, it would turn itself back on. It was great, because I would always forget to turn my ringer back on after the movies.

Haven't seen a phone with that feature since then, although I could probably get an "App" that would do it.
posted by delmoi at 1:08 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


bearwife, I didn't preview your clarification before I posted. Point taken.
posted by Capt. Renault at 1:09 PM on January 11, 2012


For Android that app is called Shush!
posted by ODiV at 1:09 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


I used to spend time working at a traffic calendar in a municipal court. It was amazing how many people would show up to contest tickets for parking in handicapped spots and speeding in school zone who simply could not understand why they should have to follow these inconvenient rules.

This is really an object lesson in the rule that if you're going to be in court, hire a lawyer, keep your mouth shut unless told otherwise and only say what your lawyer tells you to say. The number of people who can discuss their own ticket/criminal charge/whatever and not seem like an ass is virtually zero.
posted by Bulgaroktonos at 1:16 PM on January 11, 2012


The number of people who can discuss their own ticket/criminal charge/whatever and not seem like an ass is virtually zero

You'd think, but actually most people who do that are fine. Because they have a real reason (like yours) re the handicapped parking spot) or the charge is wrong for some reason or because they are apologizing, or otherwise because they have something legitimate to communicate. I'm not recommending going without counsel on felony charges, but this was traffic court.

It's a minority who think they have some unique right to do as they please. IMHO, those folks seem like asses because that, to put it mildly, is absolutely what they are.
posted by bearwife at 1:23 PM on January 11, 2012


For context, here's the ending of Mahler's 9th Symphony, with some narration from Leonard Bernstein.

And here's the Marimba ringtone.
posted by ferdydurke at 1:29 PM on January 11, 2012


It is unbelievable to me that anyone wouldn't consider this an egregious offense.
posted by brand-gnu at 1:59 PM on January 11, 2012


Hmm, I would have expected an usher to intervene before the conductor had to. Don't they act as bouncers sometimes?

Apparently that's the usual practice, according to this article:
The policy at Avery Fisher Hall, run by Lincoln Center, where the Philharmonic is a tenant, is for ushers to approach the owners of ringing phones and ask them discreetly to turn off the devices, said Eric Latzky, the orchestra’s spokesman. "In this incident, unfortunately the policy was not followed," he said.

Betsy Vorce, a spokeswoman for Lincoln Center, said officials were talking to the ushers involved. "This is one incident where the policy wasn’t followed," she said. "We’re investigating it. We’ll take corrective action if necessary."
(The article also includes comments on the incident from Maestro Gilbert.)
posted by DevilsAdvocate at 2:59 PM on January 11, 2012


The policy at Avery Fisher Hall, run by Lincoln Center, where the Philharmonic is a tenant, is for ushers to approach the owners of ringing phones and ask them discreetly to turn off the devices, said Eric Latzky, the orchestra’s spokesman.

[digression] You've reminded me of what the STOMP people did if we noticed someone with a flash camera -- they did something similar, except they specifically sent my then-roommate Eric to handle it. Because Eric was 6' 5", about 240 pounds, had hair down to the middle of his back, and would not ever back down.

So whenever someone took a photo, a few minutes later there would be this huge and angry-looking guy looming over them and intoning over and over, "GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA. GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA. GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA. IF YOU WON'T GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA, YOU'LL HAVE TO COME WITH ME TO THE LOBBY. GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA. GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA. GIVE ME YOUR CAMERA."

Most people gave him their cameras. [/digression]
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:18 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


the Augusta National's policy on cell phones during the Masters Golf Tournament: no phones allowed, period. If you are caught with one you will be kicked out and lose the tickets you might have paid thousands for. The person whose name the tickets are under may lose the right to buty them again. They enforce the rule for everyone, even members of the press.

Bravo.

Check your phones at coat check. Anyone caught with a phone, even powered off, out the door forever. Boom. No mercy.
posted by Fnarf at 3:48 PM on January 11, 2012


Yet another reason I love visiting Tokyo: I can't recall ever hearing someone else's ringtone anywhere. People keep their phones on vibrate as a default.

I'm reminded how nice that convention would be here every day on the bus to work. More beeping and electronic noise than the kitchen of a McDonalds.
posted by ctmf at 3:49 PM on January 11, 2012


Was it playing the Curb Your Enthusiasm theme song?
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:05 PM on January 11, 2012


How are people not terminally embarrassed by any ring tone that's not a simple beep or soft ringing?
posted by maxwelton at 4:18 PM on January 11, 2012


You appear to be unfamiliar with Mulatto Butts.
posted by tumid dahlia at 4:41 PM on January 11, 2012


As a New York musician, I'm really happy with how Gilbert handled this. And as a longtime audience member at the NY Phil, and an audience of concerts around the world, I can say without a shred of doubt that NYC audiences are by and large the most rude, the most loud, the most ignorant of them all, the world over. Audience members LITERALLY RUN for the exits as soon as a symphony ends, to beat the rush of traffic. Coughing is a huge problem, and cell phones do go off regularly, albeit for very short times. I think Gilbert finally put his foot down; don't believe for a second that this was the first time something like this happened. It's just the most extreme in that the asshole refused to acknowledge it was his phone and let it continue to ring.

In Europe, you can hear pins drop when an orchestra is about to begin. They have a cultural tradition with regard to orchestral music. They invented it, it's theirs. They know how to behave.

As a musician, NYC audiences really piss me off. Oh well.
posted by ReeMonster at 5:07 PM on January 11, 2012 [3 favorites]


Metafilter: whatever other talentless old motherfucker wrote this horrible, ear-splitting bullshit.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 5:15 PM on January 11, 2012


"I am a doctor!" he shouted. "I got this call because of a medical emergency. YOU GUYS ARE THE ASSHOLES." Then he stormed out of the theater.

The comedy troupe stood on stage for a moment, stunned. And then the music started again, and they began their song again, but this time the lyrics were about how sorry they were.


That sounds suspiciously like part of the performance, including the "doctor" who "stormed out."
posted by jayder at 6:47 PM on January 11, 2012 [2 favorites]


Check your phones at coat check. Anyone caught with a phone, even powered off, out the door forever. Boom. No mercy.

Until the coat check loses a cell phone, or gives one to the wrong person, or has one stolen, and ends up as a cost centre as they have to pay out money for all the missing smartphones (or the insurance for them).
posted by jeather at 7:07 PM on January 11, 2012


It would be useful if mobile phones had menus that were similar enough, obvious enough, and with enough options so that people could actually silence their phones. On my old phone, the only way to silence the alarm (daily - take yr meds) was to remove the battery.

Yeah, the guy's an ass. Even super-important people have somebody who covers for them. If you're so critical you have to be available, you have staff who can sit in the back and get an usher to notify you if the world is ending or the really cute patient has a heart on the way.

It's unfortunate that nearby audience members were annoyed, but to disturb the performers is unforgivable - it disrupts the performance for everyone.
posted by theora55 at 7:41 PM on January 11, 2012


Check your phones at coat check.

I'm willing to use valet for my car. But I would be far, far less concerned if somebody stole my car—or even just rifled through it—than if the same thing happened to my phone. If somebody has access to my phone, they have access to my email, text messages, contacts, Facebook, to all manner of personal and professional information and correspondence. That's a big deal to worry about, far worse than just filing a police report and/or insurance claim about a stolen car.

I suspect many people feel the same way.
posted by cribcage at 8:02 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


>Do people really turn their cell phone off during movies?<>...or because they just want to be seen there and tell people they went there…<

I saw Steve Earle in L.A. many years ago, and after a few songs he said something like "All you industry people talking loudly back by the bar that just came here to be seen, you’ve been seen, so you can go on now and the rest of can enjoy some music".
posted by bongo_x at 8:16 PM on January 11, 2012


I honestly can't figure out how to COMPLETELY silence the phone so it doesn't vibrate or anything when I get a call.

(gobsmacked)

Clearly, these devices should be issued only to licensed operators.
posted by flabdablet at 8:44 PM on January 11, 2012


I'm willing to use valet for my car. But I would be far, far less concerned if somebody stole my car—or even just rifled through it—than if the same thing happened to my phone. If somebody has access to my phone, they have access to my email, text messages, contacts, Facebook, to all manner of personal and professional information and correspondence. That's a big deal to worry about, far worse than just filing a police report and/or insurance claim about a stolen car.

This is why there are apps like Prey and Android Lost, so you can track and remotely erase your phone. Screen locks, too, to slow thieves down a little while you're taking the steps to erase and track.

It's simple. If one is not not willing to leave one's phone in the car or with the concierge/usher/valet, turn the fucking thing off.

I so very rarely get to go to the Symphony or the Opera, so if one's phone goes off in the middle of a performance, I will cheerfully hurdle the seats to beat offender with the ringing annoying thing until it is no longer capable of making any noise at all - evening gown, high heels, and all.
posted by MissySedai at 8:46 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Please, somebody, make a mashup video of the end of Mahler's Ninth, with the marimba ringtone going on for 5 minutes, so we can hear it for ourselves. (Unless, of course, the concert was recorded, and the recording goes viral....)
posted by exphysicist345 at 8:52 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


Clearly, these devices should be issued only to licensed operators.

It's been clearly established in this thread that what I didn't know how to do isn't possible, so no need to malign me.
posted by desjardins at 8:59 PM on January 11, 2012


For a while there, my iPhone had a tethered jailbreak on it, which meant that once it was shut down, it couldn't start up again without the assistance of a computer. So that would be one reason not to turn it off, either.

Of course, while it was like that, I never took it to any theaters or live shows or anything like that.
posted by Kalthare at 9:34 PM on January 11, 2012


roomthreeseventeen I will say that if you are going to text, you do not want to be anywhere near me in a Broadway theatre. My husband and I have had more than a few people removed from shows for doing this.

I know someone who is a Type I diabetic and she has an insulin pump. She was at a performance once and the device alarm activated and the screen lit up and she had to make a quick adjustment. The people around her naturally assumed she was sending a text or checking her email and gave her a hard time.

Just wanted to share that.
posted by mlis at 9:44 PM on January 11, 2012 [1 favorite]


On the topic of phones ringing when they shouldn't, I loved this answer in Ask.
posted by mlis at 9:55 PM on January 11, 2012


Mlis, I set my insulin pump to vibrate when I want to be more discreet. Still a bit noisy, but not too bad.
posted by BrotherCaine at 9:56 PM on January 11, 2012


I wonder if the offender was hard of hearing, and couldn't hear their own phone. Something similar happened to an elderly friend (a watch alarm at a children's piano recital).

From this blog post:
... the phone was ringing earlier in the movement. The offenders appeared to be an elderly couple; my first thought was that they didn’t know it was their phone, or they didn’t know how to turn it off.
I don't know what the answer is. More ushers?
posted by russilwvong at 11:34 PM on January 11, 2012


Are people this stupid? Yes. I conduct weddings, and phones ring so often during ceremonies, despite the warning to turn off phones just before the ceremony starts, that we (organist, violinist, singers, etc.) don't even mention it to each other afterward. However, just before Christmas there was one person whose phone rang THREE times during the ceremony. How could that person not do something to silence it, or simply walk out of the chapel to call his bookie, or whatever was so all-fired important?

Suddenly I'm reminded of the most egregious offender, about 10 years ago: phone starts ringing during the vows at a wedding held in a tiny salon in a 19th-Century Victorian house. It's the mother of the bride, front row, five feet from me, three feet from her darling daughter. She takes the call!

Funniest: just a couple years ago, during quiet prayer the ring tone is super loud, it's the Joe Perry guitar riff from Walk This Way.
posted by planetkyoto at 5:54 AM on January 12, 2012


You know, the words "tethered jailbreak" sound like an awfully good reason for never buying an iOS device.
posted by jeffburdges at 6:18 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


For the past four or so years, at least one person's phone has went off during each cultural event I've attended (ballets, symphonies, plays). It really does trigger a lynching mood in me.
posted by _paegan_ at 7:43 AM on January 12, 2012


I wonder if the offender was hard of hearing, and couldn't hear their own phone.

This was my first thought as well. I keep mine on vibrate 90% of the time for this reason, and I still miss a ton of calls. However, it's likely that he didn't come to the theater alone, so his significant other/friend/family member should have elbowed him.
posted by desjardins at 8:11 AM on January 12, 2012


I will cheerfully hurdle the seats to beat offender

But see, now we're at the heart of the issue with the FPP. What you just wrote is fine for Internet-tough, but it's obviously not true. No, you wouldn't assault somebody whose phone was ringing. In fact, you probably wouldn't do anything at all. You would sit quietly in your seat and fume, hands clenched, whsipering profanities to your companion, but you wouldn't actually do anything at all.

That's exactly what happened at this concert. Someone's phone began ringing an alarm. The owner, in all likelihood, didn't hear it. And although everybody else in the venue could hear it clearly, nobody was willing to cross the social line of tapping a stranger on the shoulder and whispering, "Excuse me, but your phone is making noise. Would you please turn it off?" Not the person to his left or right, not the people sitting behind him...nobody. Everyone just sat there quietly stewing, waiting for the owner to notice what he hadn't and wouldn't—and whether the venue's staff wasn't paying attention or just did the same thing, ultimately it landed on Gilbert to do something.

I don't know why this is common behavior, but it is. Just last week I was stuck in a parking garage, trying to exit. The line of cars wound backward at least two floors. The lead car was just sitting at the gate, being honked at. I exited my car and walked down—past car after car after car, all honking—and talked to the driver. She couldn't read English and didn't realize that she needed to pay at a machine before trying to exit the garage. It took me all of twelve seconds to explain this to her. I politely asked her to reverse her car to the rest of us could leave in the meantime, and of course she did. Voila.

You don't need to beat anybody. Just be willing to politely tap a stranger on the shoulder, instead of silently fuming in your head and then rushing home to explode on the Internet.
posted by cribcage at 8:29 AM on January 12, 2012 [9 favorites]


It's common behavior because people assume that the person who's annoying them knows they're being annoying. I doubt anybody else in that line of cars even considered the possibility that the woman at the front didn't know what she needed to do to make the gate open, as opposed to knowing and not caring. Same with the guy at the orchestra; we go straight to the assumption that he's being deliberately rude by not switching the damn thing off, not that he can't hear what everybody around him can. (And not entirely without reason, mind; if somebody's attending a symphony and has a cell phone set to ring audibly instead of vibrating, I would infer that the individual is, at least, not severely hard of hearing)
posted by Holy Zarquon's Singing Fish at 8:41 AM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Interview with Patron X (classical music lover, brand new iPhone, alarm clock set accidentally, took a while before he realized the sound was coming from his phone).
posted by gubo at 7:58 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


Reinforces my belief that some kind of operator licence should be required for these things. If you don't know how to operate the phone in your pocket, or if its design makes it impossible to guarantee that it will remain silent when you want it silent, and you bring it to a concert anyway, you ought to lose your licence.
posted by flabdablet at 9:11 PM on January 12, 2012 [1 favorite]


I learned that the iPhone would still ring its alarm while the ringer was off while I was in a rehearsal, actually. It seems so fucking counterintuitive! The ringer is OFF!
posted by KathrynT at 9:25 PM on January 12, 2012


Or maybe an anti-licence of some sort would do the trick. If your phone goes off in the middle of a concert, the promoter should have the right to write FUCKWIT on your forehead in indelible marker that won't wash off for a month.
posted by flabdablet at 9:26 PM on January 12, 2012


(classical music lover, brand new iPhone, alarm clock set accidentally, took a while before he realized the sound was coming from his phone)

[...]

I learned that the iPhone would still ring its alarm while the ringer was off while I was in a rehearsal, actually. It seems so fucking counterintuitive! The ringer is OFF!

My go-to phone interruption story involves a good friend of mine, with whom I attended a performance of Beethoven string quartets at the Temple Church in London. Lovely venue, very starch-stiff with an audience demographic (for this concert, at least) skewing older and serious-looking. My friend had only gotten her iPhone recently and was sweating bullets that it would go off during the concert, so she checked and checked that it was in silent mode. She didn't want to be "that person", and in fact mocked any "idiot" that would be so rude and inconsiderate. Guess what? Just like this poor schlub Patron X (who, based on the NYT article, I believe to be clueless, not rude, and very, very contrite) my friend's alarm started blaring, full-blast, in the middle of a quiet musical passage. She turned fire engine red, started stabbing at the screen, and finally had to flee the hall.

Of course everyone in our group was in stitches, trying to keep from laughing our asses off at her. It didn't help that the first time round she only managed to snooze it, so the bloody thing went off a second time - luckily we saved our braying laughter for after the concert.

Or maybe an anti-licence of some sort would do the trick. If your phone goes off in the middle of a concert, the promoter should have the right to write FUCKWIT on your forehead in indelible marker that won't wash off for a month.

My point is that many folks might be aware of the phone rules, but not understand their own hardware when it comes to "intuitive" design. Why not brand the phone designer? Patron X (and to a much lesser extent my poor friend) are suffering enough for their sins - these are folks that revere musicians and abhor this kind of etiquette breach. Shouldn't silent mean silent on a phone?

Also, the alarm problem wouldn't be solved by any of the jamming technology fantasies wished for upthread. Usually, patron education is the only sensible route (I say, wistful to be back in the arms of the Alamo Drafthouse...)
posted by Chichibio at 3:10 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The solution to the alarm issue is to turn the phone OFF. Not on vibrate, not on silent, OFF. Maybe this incident, and the NYT followup, will finally persuade more people of that.
posted by hydropsyche at 6:16 AM on January 13, 2012


My point is that many folks might be aware of the phone rules, but not understand their own hardware when it comes to "intuitive" design.

Which is exactly what the mandatory training involved in acquiring a phone operator's licence would address.

Why not brand the phone designer?

Because it's not the phone designer choosing to bring a noisemaking device into an environment where none of that device's multiple functions has any legitimate use.
posted by flabdablet at 7:22 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The solution to the alarm issue is to turn the phone OFF. Not on vibrate, not on silent, OFF.

Even my cheap and shitty Nokia will wake up from being turned off when it's time to make an alarm noise. The only ways to stop it doing that are (a) remove the battery, which I understand is not a practicable option for iPhones or (b) make sure all the alarms are turned off.

The correct solution to the concert noise issue is not bringing your stupid phone to the friggin' concert. People too thick or too wedded to their electronic social prosthesis to work this out absolutely deserve to have obscenities scrawled on their heads if they disrupt proceedings.
posted by flabdablet at 7:33 AM on January 13, 2012


I think there needs to be a cultural shift away from expecting people to be available 24/7. My husband was screamed at by a former boss for not answering his phone during church. My husband is not a heart transplant surgeon. The emergency was something like the email server had gone down in their small company (on Sunday morning, not exactly the busiest time), and my husband was the CIO. He felt tons of pressure never to go anywhere or do anything where he couldn't be accessible by phone. I suppose it's part of the job (and part of the reason he's no longer in that job) but it was an immense interference with his life.
posted by desjardins at 8:50 AM on January 13, 2012


I didn't know that an iPhone alarm will still ring when the phone itself is set to vibrate.

I can only assume this person has some kind of daily or weekly alarm set to go off at the same time, though, like "Don't forget to take your insulin" or something? Otherwise what point would it be to set an alarm for a time in the middle of a concert? Unless the concert went longer than expected, and there was an alarm to "call home to let everybody know what a great concert it was?"

I sincerely ask because I can't think of a reason why you'd have an alarm set on your phone unless it was for something that really required your attention at that specific time, of such importance that if the alarm sounded you shouldn't be hitting snooze four or five times and instead would get up to address that thing which you alarmed for.
posted by CancerMan at 9:24 AM on January 13, 2012


If the employer just gave him the iPhone the day before, unless it was fresh out of the box, I'm thinking someone else set up the alarm. Lots of companies give employees used phones and computers and don't necessarily reset them to factory defaults.

The day after I got my iPhone, I would have had NO IDEA that an alarm would ring in silent mode. It certainly didn't do that on my last phone. I've had it for 3 months and it wasn't until this thread that I was sure there was no way to make it completely silent without turning it off. Yes, the guy should have turned it off before the concert started, but I think he can be forgiven for 1) not knowing an alarm was set and 2) not knowing it would ring in silent mode.
posted by desjardins at 9:47 AM on January 13, 2012


CancerMan, I can posit exactly such a situation: where you set an alarm for 9:15 to take your morning meds, except that you accidentally set it for PM instead of AM. If you read the interview, the phone was brand new to him, so he might have still been in the "fucking around with it" stage.
posted by KathrynT at 9:48 AM on January 13, 2012


Also, I've hit snooze instead of dismiss on my husband's Droid X probably a half-dozen times because my finger swipes too high on the screen. The iPhone is less sensitive to where your finger is touching, and I'm not that used to his phone. Fortunately, it's never happened in a public place.
posted by desjardins at 9:53 AM on January 13, 2012


Unless there are differences among the models, the iPhone will not make any sound at all when powered off including the alarms. This is actually powered off, not just with the screen turned off (and it has becme clear during this conversation that many many cellphone owners don't know the difference between turning the screen off on something and powering it off).
posted by hydropsyche at 10:34 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The correct solution to the concert noise issue is not bringing your stupid phone to the friggin' concert.

Right, because no one ever goes from work to a concert without going home first, and everyone has a way to safely store their phone for those few hours, too. Honestly, I think it's obnoxious also if a phone goes off, and if you have an actual conversation then I am not entirely sure that beating you to death with your phone is wrong, but accidents happen, even during movies and concerts and plays.
posted by jeather at 10:44 AM on January 13, 2012


The problem with "accidents" is that in a room of 1000 people, you're pretty much guaranteed to have an accident per performance, if not ten. So we've now entered a world where silently appreciating a concert is impossible? I mean, if that's the price people are willing to pay for angry birds, that's cool, but it doesn't seem like everyone is willing to pay it just yet.
posted by maxwelton at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


The problem is not that an accident happened; it's that some asshole refused to own up and correct his problem - which was loud enough to be heard by the fucking conductor! - five times in a row.

Also: I have a hard time believing any stories in this thread about phones "turned off" magically turning themselves back on for alarms. I can't even imagine the engineer who would think, "You know what should happen if the customer turns the on-off switch to the off position? We should ignore it!"

I think "turned off" is being used as a euphemism for "sound turned off", which is completely different... I for one want my alarm to ring at normal volume, next 6:45 am, even if I left the volume turned down in the movie theatre the night before.
posted by IAmBroom at 11:44 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


What's an on-off switch?
posted by ODiV at 11:53 AM on January 13, 2012 [1 favorite]


ODiV: on most cellphones, it's a button you hold down for a few seconds, after which the phone either immediately powers off, or pops up a verification to make sure you really wish to power off.

Read your manual.
posted by IAmBroom at 1:47 PM on January 13, 2012


I dunno, no one in the history of attending concerts has been guaranteed absolute silence. Since time immemorial there have been coughs, sneezes, the sounds of shuffling feet and rustling programs, keys or pocket change accidentally dropped to the floor, the occasional scream due to someone having a medical emergency, ushers hurriedly locating patrons and whispering that the babysitter called and XYZ happened, etc. etc. etc.

Is it annoying that you can add cell phones to the list? Yeah. Are they now prolific enough that they pose an unsurpassed noise nuisance? Maybe. But I can handle an "accident" or two in a two hour performance, provided it's clearly in good faith and the culprit acts appropriately. It happens to everyone. You can be all high and mighty about it now but there will come a time you are running late and are harried and will forget to turn it off and someone will call or text you. If you have a cell phone and routinely attend events in public where a ringing cell phone would be a faux pas, the odds are that it will happen to you at some point, no matter how vigilant you are.

If the guy who this happens to quickly silences it and looks around and sees me looking at him and waves apologetically, then you know what, all is well. And that's what this patron effectively did by going on the record with the Times, and I feel bad for him now.
posted by dixiecupdrinking at 1:50 PM on January 13, 2012


My point was that they are buttons instead of switches now, there is no off position and engineers (or more likely, their bosses) are indeed changing the functionality of these buttons.
posted by ODiV at 2:21 PM on January 13, 2012


Yeah, at the point where it had gone off more than once, you hand it to someone who knows WTF they're doing. Surely there is someone under 50 years old in the crowd.
posted by desjardins at 2:45 PM on January 13, 2012


I don't go to live music, but I've been to comedy shows and movies and plays, and I've actually never been interrupted by a cell phone going off, so I don't think it's inevitable. (If it were, would it really make news when it happens?)
posted by jeather at 3:24 PM on January 13, 2012


Yeah, at the point where it had gone off more than once, you hand it to someone who knows WTF they're doing.

Except he didn't realize it was him until the third ring.
posted by EmpressCallipygos at 3:27 PM on January 13, 2012


I have a hard time believing any stories in this thread about phones "turned off" magically turning themselves back on for alarms.

Have you actually tried this out on your own phone? Because it definitely works that way on mine.

Steps to reproduce:

1. Set and enable an alarm to go off two minutes from now.

2. Hold down the red-phone button until the phone runs through its normal power-down sequence and shuts off.

3. Wait two minutes.

Result on my Nokia 2730:

Phone powers up. Alarm tone sounds. On-screen prompts offer Snooze (large central button) and Stop (small right-hand button) options. If you press Snooze, or do nothing and leave the alarm sounding for one minute, the phone powers back down; after the snooze period, the alarm behavior restarts. If you press Stop, the screen displays "Switch the phone on?" and offers Yes (large central button) and No (small right-hand button) options.

None of this is documented in the User Guide.
posted by flabdablet at 7:30 PM on January 13, 2012 [3 favorites]


Another anecdotal point: sometimes I set out to do a simple task (like turn off my phone, or take some medicine), and then find myself in the state of being unable to remember whether I've done it or not. And a smartphone that's off looks exactly like a smartphone that's locked.

With my iPhone, it's easy enough to test: press the Home button. If the phone is locked, the screen will quietly come on. If the phone is off, nothing will happened.

However, the Android phone I previously owned had only three physical buttons: the power/lock button and the volume buttons. If the phone is locked, the volume buttons don't do anything, and the lock button turns the screen on. If the phone is off, the volume buttons don't do anything, and the lock button turns the phone back on, going through a quite lengthy, flashy boot-up process (and possibly a noisy one too, depending on settings that I can't adjust or check when the phone is off or booting).

In other words, on my Android phone, if I wasn't sure whether it was off or not, the safest thing to do was to simply assume, and hope, that it was off.
posted by Kalthare at 2:15 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


flabdablet: "Have you actually tried this out on your own phone? Because it definitely works that way on mine."

It happens on the N900 too. It's a standard feature on all Nokia phones.
posted by vanar sena at 9:26 AM on January 14, 2012 [1 favorite]


If we can have an "Airplane Mode", why not also have a "Concert Mode" that completely silences your phone? It could even be linked to your calendar so that any events labelled "concert" automatically put the phone into that mode at the appointed time.
posted by Crane Shot at 8:47 AM on January 15, 2012 [2 favorites]


The Economist did a piece today on the matter. Before people start seeing red on bliss intruded upon by digital devices, I'd like to direct you to a quote from the article:

(quote)

The New York Times reported that the gentleman in question, interviewed by the newspaper but not named, had received a brand new company iPhone a day before the concert, replacing his BlackBerry smartphone. An alarm had been set accidentally, it appears, and he was only able to silence it after much fumbling in his pocket. A spokeswoman for the Philharmonic told Babbage that the hapless interrupter, a front-row season subscriber, is mortified, and that the orchestra and staff feel for him.

(end quote)

Full article here.
posted by vnvlain at 8:13 PM on January 15, 2012 [3 favorites]


None of this is documented in the User Guide.

Then I'm not sure what would be solved by "mandatory training" and an operator's license. In this theoretical world, are you imagining that every prospective phone user will receive training so comprehensive and thorough that it'll cover details omitted from today's user manuals?

Just for perspective: We don't require "operator training" for United States citizens to buy firearms. Massachusetts, for instance (a pretty liberal state), requires license applicants to take a class covering basic safety, but it doesn't include any kind of comprehensive instruction of how various firearms operate. Considering how many different types exist—and MA is pretty restrictive about which ones can be sold here—it would otherwise take a very, very long class, or else many, many different iterations.

So even the most stripped-down version of your suggestion would treat cell phones more restrictively than we currently treat handguns, and it sounds like you're imagining a version that goes into considerable depth. It's fine to imagine and talk about—maybe fun, even—but it's wildly unrealistic.
posted by cribcage at 8:14 AM on January 16, 2012


Thanks, flabdablet. I stand corrected.

That is amazingly stupid design.
posted by IAmBroom at 8:38 AM on January 16, 2012


One would think so, but the net is full of people complaining that their new android handsets and iphones not doing exactly this.
posted by vanar sena at 9:06 AM on January 16, 2012


You might need the phone's alarm after losing the charger.
posted by jeffburdges at 2:10 PM on January 16, 2012


are you imagining that every prospective phone user will receive training so comprehensive and thorough that it'll cover details omitted from today's user manuals?

The owner's manual for a car typically doesn't speak to driving it safely. That has to be covered in a training course, and it's socially unacceptable to operate a car in public without having attended one.

even the most stripped-down version of your suggestion would treat cell phones more restrictively than we currently treat handguns

As I live outside the US, you'd naturally expect me to find the US attitude toward firearm ownership broken, bizarre, insane, frightening, incomprehensible and totally not worth basing any other policy on. But in this instance, you'd be wrong.

Massachusetts, for instance (a pretty liberal state), requires license applicants to take a class covering basic safety, but it doesn't include any kind of comprehensive instruction of how various firearms operate.

I'd favor exactly that kind of approach for mobile phones. A phone "basic safety" class would cover things like knowledge of the consequences of driving while distracted by a phone, and would drum in the necessity of finding out, as a matter of priority on acquiring a new phone, how to engage the safety catch properly.

Gaining detailed operational knowledge can be left to the device user, because the motivation to do that pretty much comes with the device. But as we've seen from the tragic tale above, not even somebody "totally mortified" by their phone going shitspray in public had the internal motivation to make sure that that wouldn't happen. Which says to me that such motivation needs to be imposed from outside.
posted by flabdablet at 3:29 PM on January 16, 2012


It happens on the N900 too. It's a standard feature on all Nokia phones.

Works on my old LG TU550 and (I think) ms. flabdablet's Samsung SGH-A401 as well.
posted by flabdablet at 3:32 PM on January 16, 2012


But as we've seen from the tragic tale above, not even somebody "totally mortified" by their phone going shitspray in public had the internal motivation to make sure that that wouldn't happen.

But as we've also seen from several comments in this thread, somebody who does have that internal motivation might perform a reasonable investigation and still be foiled by the phone's ability to reactivate itself despite the safety/silent catch being engaged. A number of MeFites were surprised by that "feature," and this is a pretty tech-savvy group.

I guess what I'm saying is that while I may agree with half your sentiment on a very basic level (i.e., people should learn how to operate devices in their pocket), in this case it seems like using a car accident that was caused by a deer running into the road as justification for educating drivers about the dangers of drowsiness. If you believe this guy's story and the various audience accounts, (1) a relatively obscure function caused his phone to beep, and (2) he didn't hear the beeping soon enough. I don't see any realistic level of mandated-instruction that is going to solve either of those.
posted by cribcage at 4:25 PM on January 16, 2012


the phone's ability to reactivate itself despite the safety/silent catch being engaged

In my perfect world, unless you can demonstrate to an instructor that you know how to reliably silence your phone, you haven't passed safety class and you don't get to carry it.

How does it work with handguns? If I've passed the safety class with a Glock (which doesn't have a separate safety catch), am I then entitled to carry a Browning Hi-Power (which does)?
posted by flabdablet at 8:38 AM on January 17, 2012


Also in my perfect world, one of the first things that guy asked himself on receipt of his new phone would have been "Do I know enough about this new device the company has just given me to guarantee that I can stop it from making unsociable noises?" and until the answer was "Yes" he would never have chosen to take it to a concert, movie, hospital emergency room or any other place where it could possibly end up making him look like somebody fully deserving of having FUCKWIT written on his forehead in indelible ink.
posted by flabdablet at 8:44 AM on January 17, 2012


I think phones ringing inappropriately is annoying, too, but there's some pretty key differences in the practical bad-case scenarios with phone misuse vs. gun or motor vehicle misuse. A situation in which an inappropriately ringing phone leads to someone's death could be contrived, I am sure, but for guns and cars there are depressingly large statistics readily available.

Framing an argument for phone literacy in those terms, even by analogy, is not a winning tactic.
posted by cortex at 8:58 AM on January 17, 2012 [2 favorites]


Hey, at least he didn't accuse the guy of starting another Holocaust.
posted by desjardins at 2:39 PM on January 17, 2012


Far be it from me to shout Holocaust in a crowded theatre.
posted by flabdablet at 6:18 PM on January 17, 2012


another way to deal with an interrupting cell phone
posted by idiopath at 11:41 AM on January 21, 2012 [6 favorites]


Now that was a rather awesome way to respond.
posted by zarq at 1:56 PM on January 23, 2012


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