In the large theater chain in my area, the advertisements before the movie trailers start go on and on about how you shouldn’t have your cellphone on while the movie is playing. It’s a pretty common sense ad; after all, if you’re watching a movie you shouldn’t want to be in a conversation with someone outside the movie theater. It’s bad enough when people talk at all, but when a phone gets thrown into the mix the whole situation just becomes overly-dramatic. Nowadays texting is the big issue. People must think they’re clever, keeping the conversation to text-only. The bad part? That remarkably bright screen.

That aforementioned advertisement is something like “No Texting During the Movie.” They throw in an acronym for good measure, just to make sure it’s easy to remember: NTDM. To be frank, it isn’t working. The whole advertisement thing isn’t working. People just don’t care. I go to a lot of movies, and there’s not one that I’ve been to where there’s not just one person on the phone, but quite a few. It’s to the point where I’m beginning to wonder if they’re not talking to one another, sharing their thoughts on the film, maybe critiquing it as it goes along. That still wouldn’t be okay.

Yes, this is a rant. The truth is I can understand why having a conversation with someone not in the movie is appealing. There are all sorts of reasons why you might be texting them: maybe they really wanted to go but couldn’t; so you’re filling them in on what’s going on. Or, maybe you were having a serious conversation before the film started, and you just can’t stop it because of a movie. That’d be ridiculous, right?

But that aside, it’s starting to really bother me. It’s always bothered me, but it’s become a real issue this summer. The more movies that are released, and the more times that I’m in a movie theater, the more I find myself watching the glowing light of a phone, rather than the movie itself. True story: a few movies back (a couple of weeks ago, probably), this young kid sat down next to me. He seemed to be really excited to watch this particular sci-fi flick. He was sitting cross-legged in the chair (which is strange in of itself) and maybe that should have been a red flag that things were about to go awry. And sure enough, even before the movie started, he had his phone out (a landscape flip-phone with a full keyboard) and was texting someone furiously. And it’s a physical keyboard, so I can hear the tap-tap-tap with each and every single key press.

Folks, this just isn’t the way things should go. And since it’s getting worse (at least here, locally), I feel like I need to ask you, from the bottom of my heart – shut off your phone. Not before you get in the theater. You know what? Not even through the trailers, if you really have to keep that conversation going. But, during the movie, turn off your phone! Actually, I’ll concede this: if you have to talk to someone, and you can’t leave the theater, then turn down the brightness of your phone. And, put the phone against the back of your chair, or inside your shirt, or use your popcorn container to block the phone while you text away. Do something. Don’t just sit there and show the whole theater your phone’s incandescent display. It’s uncalled for.

Of course, I know this isn’t going to stop. And now that I’ve written about it, I’m probably going to start noticing it even more. That’s just the nature of the beast. But I can hope. And I’m going to continue to hope. I’m a phone fanatic, and there’s rarely a time that I don’t have a phone in my hand and I’m using it. But, when I’m in a movie, I know that putting it down and away is something that’s not just important to the filmmakers (they made the movie for you to watch, after all), but even more so to the rest of the audience around me. There’s no reason why I should want to ruin their experience. And yes, a bright screen out of the gloom of the movie theater is a distraction.

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102 Reactions to this post

"Should people turn their phones off while they're in the movie theater?"

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Fan OfDreaming I think they should at least put it on vibrate and make sure that the ringer isn't ruining the movie 4 every1 else, but otherwise the phone may be needed 4 important things, like when a family member needed to call me after getting locked out of the house.
Uronika Knighton If your watching a $10 movie and receive a phone call its rude. Turn the phone off! Have respect for the people around you. Whatever it is can wait, you aren't running a country or something. Its just not fair the the rest of the people who paid for the movie, soda, popcorn, and bribed their kids to turn their phones off. Respectively Me!
Abdullah Qaraeen no, just silent! :)
Steven Bell Silent
Tom Parker You people who text or talk on your phone during the movie are douche bags. And, if you cant go to the movies without worrying if your 4 year old kid is okay, then you really shouldn't be at the movies. How about respecting other people's privacy you aholes.
Tricia Tuttle ABSOLUTELY!
Olinda Britto Maybe not necessarily turned off but a least silenced. Unfortunately, one person at a movie theater always forgets and during an emotional scene we hear an obnoxious ringtone.
Shahul Hameed Silent mod
???? put it on vibrate and dim the screen
Gordon Christie they should turn em off or at least put them on silent or deserve to be abused
Gerardo Ortega No they should stop bringing their babies to the movies. I'm tired of hearing crying babies in the movie theater.
Brian Crysler Nope just put them on silent and I don't mind the texting
Wit BoonHan Why not just keep the phone for urgent use and just silent it.
Marcus Frederick Of course! It's disrespectful to have your phone ring while other people are watching a movie as well as the glare from the screen is a distraction to others.
Bernd Lohner Movies, Broadway, Opera: Phone off!!! If you are truly on call: Stay home or in a non sensitive environment. Otherwise: The world won't end if you are not reachable for a few hours... People forget how to unplug... I enjoy my yearly vacations where the next network coverage is 40+ miles away... That's what vacation is about... So the movies etc. should be a short reprieve... I am there for the film - not to hear you yapping... Thankfully no problems so far - but I wouldn't hesitate one second to get you to stop or ask for a refund for the movie...
Sally Rider I just jump to airplane mode..quicker and phone re-up easily achieved
Tony Stark Of course
Tyler Dustin Yes because If you paid for a movie, why are you on the phone?( unless it's an emergency)
Jesse Moore Vibrate or silent is fine too. Just don't take it out on full brightness to text your bff Becky 100 times. So annoying.
Mike Nguyen Whatever!!
Luis Hernandez @Anthony took u awhile to get ur koolaid
Adam Fontaine I don't think they need too turn them off but they should put them on silent and not use them. The light from the screen is just as annoying as the sound.
Aimee Blain Hoyle put it on silent, and if you need to text keep it down in your lap to not disturb anyone. I have a 4 yr old and if by some rarity I get to go out I need to know my son is ok
Sergio Nayar Nope, just put them on vibe...
Michael Gordon 100% YES!
Tara McClenic hell yes!!
Erman Guido If course
Luis Valentin-Zeno Put it on vibrate an upside down, last time I got a text and it lit up the place like the fourth of july
Andrey Klimovskikh At least in vibrate mode. It's very annoying when someone would just start talking during the movie!
Ray Nash Yes!
Richard Levasseur Yes, I when to a theater in Oklahoma and it had some kind of sign block, I hated the help out of it but liked the reasoning behind it.
Roy Embry You can still hear phones set on vibrate rattling against the contents of purses or pockets. Theaters should just install jammers and bring back ushers to eject people with poor phone etiquette.
Eric Alan Holloway Turn it off. If you can't live without it off for the length of a movie then maybe you should just stay at home and wait for that important call.
Lorne Shaggy Sloan NO, but they should set them to silent, and not sit there texting all through the movie.
Anthony Peña @Luis So did I...what do you want a cookie?
Leo Alexandrov Oh yea, definitely waste tax money to have a security guard in a theater to tell you to turn your phone off....
Salina Rivera nope. keep it on vibrate. I'm going to the movies today, and my phone will stay on!!
David Hilgendorf There is a app called Quick Settings and I use it all the time and definitely when I pay money to see these movies. One touch for brightness and one touch for vibrate.
Darryl Mouzone It's their choice but I have seen people texting throughout the entire movie. If they came to see the movie, then why are they busy texting instead of watching the movie they paid for? It would be polite to do that but people aren't polite anymore.
Nathaniel Hull I have a child .... I NEVER turn my phone off
David Kimball Heck yes!!!!!!!
Michael Cohen Yes, definitely. When a phone rings it only distracts people from the movie they paid for. Putting the phone on vibrate and taking the call outside of the theater is the best solution.
Josh Ward Nope record the movie
Luis Hernandez @Anthony I voted for obama
Gabriel Freeman I'm guilty of having mine on vibrate, with the brightness setting down to zero. I can still tell if it may be an emergency, but its not enough to ruin the movie experience for anybody. Few people ever call me anyway.
Robert Simmons If your worrying about emergencies all the time it's time for a cell phone vacation
Alex Dunbar Vibration I don't like when people text and talk
Gainaako Munyal Either the phone should be on silent mode or off
Jon Smith I would say turn it on vibrate and turn the brightness to as low as possible in case of an emergency
Gracë Tølu Ôsofisan YESSSS....or on silent and in your pocket....
Robert Simmons @jeffrey gardella Runpee is an app on android and probably iPhone that tells you when it's a good time during the movie to pee
Anthony Peña @Robert and Luis...what's with the racist comments? You guys are like a couple of Tea baggin republicans
Jonathan Cervantes @angel valez... Illigal reallu? Do you want the goverment controlling your Life even more... Who cares as long as its on vibrate or silent txt away just don't talk on it ....
John Zanatta Vibrate / silent and keep it in your pocket. The world will not explode if you don't immediately text back "wtf omg lol," douche...
Pete Simon @ Robert Simmons. Flash around their shitty prepaid phones. Rofl. Good one. The truth.
Christian Crow silent it at least or turn it off , because it ruins the moment
Taylor Rentschler Yea as long as their on vibrate!!!!
Michael Ward Who cares!
Gregory Brothers Yes turn them off
Cory Spencer I'm in a theater now. Vibrate is suffice!
Luis Hernandez @sean i can see why ur saying that
Anthony Peña @ Anthony Ng They do have jammers its called "The concession stand"
Angel Velez Should be ilegal to talk play text in the theater! Its anoying and the brightness of the phones catch your attention! There has to be a security guard or something going around to tell people!
Sean Reece @luis your so stupid and racist all the black people i know are nice and funny so shut up about black people being rude and white people arent always nice i see more rude white people then black!
Kip Count Yes. I hate seeing people d*cking around w their phones in the theater.
Danny Iriarte It depends, How hard is it to put it on silence?
Edmund Nigel Put it on vibrate
Sean Reece vibrate??
Luis Hernandez @BRIAN go drink some kool-aid
Anthony Peña @Darrion Get the transformers 3 on bootleg and go see Horrible bosses I J S
Matthew Hofbauer If you are in a position that you might have need to answer the phone, here is a clue; Put it on vibrate and sit next to an exit. If you HAVE to answer it, click the button, and hurry out of the theater before you say anything.
Chris Lee Either keep it on vibrate and hidden unless it's important or have that shit off. Who the hell goes to the movie theatre to pay about 12$ a ticket and spend about 15$ on popcorn and stuff just to play with their phone. Lol
Jeffrey Gardella What the bell is a runpee app
Chris Lee Yes they should, because I had a bad experience a few weeks ago. Went to see movie and this guy had his cell phone out a few seats in front of me to my right, and all I could see was this super bright light, which really annoyed me through out the entire movie. And for no reason because I didn't see the guy pressing any buttons or making calls. It was like if he had curfew or something and just kept taking a long stare at the time on his phone like every 5 minutes.
Brian J. Moore @Luis You are fucked in the head.
David Lewis You should @ least put ur phone on vibrate
Robert Simmons .Oh yeah and those of you that need the runpee app .... You are a waste of air and good dna. The hopefully darwin will come along and whipe out all you morons
Jeffrey Gardella I am just a guilty as the next guy when it comes to doing it but in my own defence I Atleast don't sit with in some ones immediate area such as in the one of the top corners of the theater now if u see my light when I'm sitting their why must you be so close when I am blantently on my phone witch is goin to bother you
Luis Hernandez Only black people leave the cell phones on in the movie theaters while talking a lot of random shit.. them bastards. not like whites and if they do that shit at least they excuse them self. that teaches you about the different types of education each races gets.
Robert Simmons You assholes who need your phones on during the movie should have some f****** respect
Calvin Jeffery Its up to the person always will be our own choice. Turn it on or off. It's al up to u
Robert Simmons The theaters ask you to silence your cell phones. The more ghetto the theater the more people are on their f****** phones. It's as if they have to flash around their shitty prepaid phone.
Brian Coats Does a bare shit in the woods?
Jeffrey Gardella If the movie is any good you won't notice the limghts off the phones unless your specifically looking for it to have a reason to complain just turn the ringed off and turn down the brightness and to the guy who.said he's. A fireman I am one to and I think you will agree when I say I think people would be annoyed by a Motorola minitor going off in Tue middle of The movie but I do say when I get the text from edispatch I do leave the movie to listen to the page go out because I do show the courtesy that people don't want to hear the tones coming from my phone
Jordan Thomson I put mine on vibrate
Jomar Lee Streeter I think you should but idk maybe just vibrate I mean my HTC desire will stay on the whole time lol

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