Geek Ink Thinks: What’s up with these teenagers and their cellphones?

Texting in movies

You know what I really enjoy about the cinema experience? It’s not the movie, the giant screen, or the digital surround sound. No, it’s not even the coke and popcorn. You know what I really enjoy about going to the cinema? The sound of a teenager slowly crying out in agony as their cellphone shatters into a million pieces after I send it flying into the nearest wall.

At least it would be the best part of the experience if I ran the local cinema.

So I was at the cinema this weekend to catch Don Jon (check my review of it here) and considering what the movie is about, I wasn’t surprised to find an entire row of teenagers sitting right in front of us. I hoped that they would show some restraint and wouldn’t be disruptive during the movie, but let’s not kid ourselves, they are teenagers after all. Not even twenty minutes into the movie, one of them decides to pull out his cellphone. Of course the screen turning on is about as subtle as slap to the face, but it soon returned to his pocket so I decided not to get upset about it.

About ten minutes later, it was out again. Thankfully one of my buddies who isn’t shy about this sort of thing goes “Ah, bright lights! Bright lights!”.

The cellphone quickly slipped back into its owner’s pocket.

Everything was good for about fifteen minutes when the same brat decided he might actually have a message (no, you didn’t have any messages the last two times, you’re not going to have any now) and again, out came the phone. Before I could pipe up with “Dude, you’re not that popular, please put your phone away”, my buddy repeated his bright lights line. Again the annoying glow of the phone’s screen quickly disappeared.

There were one or two more instances of quick phone checks from other members of the group, but thankfully, nothing worth getting upset about. However, there was something that really struck me as the movie finished.

The credits for Don Jon started to roll, and it’s at this point that most people decided to make their way towards the exit. As we got up, I noticed something peculiar. Four of the teenagers who were in front of us seemed to be sitting in some kind of unusual prayer position. They were leaning towards the floor, hunched over as if they were on a plane that was about to crash and they were bracing for impact. The only difference was that instead of having their arms crossed and pressed against the seat in front of them, and they had their arms closely tucked in. It was only when we started to move that I noticed their faces were glued to their phones.

They were still there when we made it to the end of the row and started to head up the stairs to leave.

I brought this up with my “bright lights” friend as we were leaving and he had actually discussed this type of behaviour another friend of his. The idea that they came up with when they noticed similar behaviour in a younger friend was this:

Imagine if you’re having a conversation with some who grew up with BBM and whatsapp. To them, getting a text message is the same as if the person just walked up to them and entered the conversation. It would be rude to ignore the message. Older people tend to view text messages as the digital equivalent of a letter. It’s there, you’ve checked it, but it’s not so important that you need to deal with it right now. If it was that important someone would have tried to call you.

This is a possible explanation, but I am still struggling a bit to understand how people can view a text message as more important than what is going on in front of their faces in the present moment, but that might just be me. After all, I’m also the guy that hates being interrupted by my phone most of the time.

Have you got any cellphone stories that have to do with this strange new behaviour? Or any stories about teenagers using them to be annoying in the cinema? Feel free to add them below or to this post on Facebook.


4 thoughts on “Geek Ink Thinks: What’s up with these teenagers and their cellphones?

  1. Another thing that bugs me is when little kids are taken to the cinema and just left to their own devices by parents… I was once kicked in the back repeatedly and waited for his dad to do something. Eventually I had to turn round and tell him off myself haha! Also I’m only 20 and I don’t understand the whole neurotic checking of messages…

    – JD –


    1. Ah children! I either avoid going to kid friendly movies or go to the last show for the day to avoid kids who get bored easily and start ruining it for everyone else!


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