Social Media and Mobile Phones in Cinema Halls

Social Media and Mobile Phones in Cinema Halls
Cinema halls before social media and mobile phones

I was at a movie theater when I felt it. The shift, a significant cultural shift. It had been around me all along but it was the first time I could perceive it clearly. How peculiar changes are, they happen slowly while we are unaware and then, overwhelmingly at once. You keep buying books, one after another, and keep eating out and won't stop until your bookshelf is full and your favorite jeans don't fit you anymore.

Is it already too late when we begin to observe the first instance of change?

It was a Wednesday in September of 2021 and I had gone to watch Spider-man: No Way Home. It was a highly anticipated movie and the theater was nearly housefull. I used to avoid being present in a movie theater with so many people, always opting for unusual showtimes. However, that day, after COVID-19 pandemic, a house-full theater felt like a privilege. I quietly sat at my seat, and felt a part of a happy excited crowd. I could not help but realize how much watching a movie in a theater was a collective activity. It was beautiful. Like a bubble for all our emotions: you could cry, laugh, scream, cheer, applause, every emotion acceptable, every emotion allowed. We all were in it together. There were parents who had brought their kids to watch their favorite superhero but their noise did not annoy me as much. I felt surprisingly accommodating and grateful to be present in a crowd. This was when it happened.

Just as each member of the audience settled in his/her seat, out came the mobile phones. At first, I noticed two guys next to me, gingerly posing and for a selfie, telling the world they’re watching a movie. Then slowly, to my absolute surprise and horror, there emerged a pattern of bright mobile screens. Almost every single person with a mobile phone, logging in an app, informing the world that they are watching a movie, clicking a picture- flash! flash! The movie continued…and while it played, random mobile screens would light up for various reasons- clicking more pictures, expressing moods to the world, ordering food, casual browsing, etc. This is when it occurred to me: we now need to be entertained/stimulated even while watching a movie. No longer was anyone transfixed at the screen, and maybe no longer was the movie being etched in someone’s mind as movies used to. I no longer felt a part of an audience, watching a movie didn't feel like a collective experience. Rather, it seemed that everyone had a larger audience to cater to, to collectively watch the movie with.

Watching a concert through mobile phones
Mobile phones in cinema halls and concerts

Maybe I am being dramatic but this incident still stays with me. I often stay up and my mind goes back to the time when our grandparents used to marvel at, and mourn the advent of mobile phones. I remember that significant shift- but somehow I am unable to recall anxiety being such a major component of that shift. Today, as I absentmindedly browse through my phone, I wonder about this cultural transition. I am compelled to record this perception: today, we are a society that thrives and depends on social media, we cannot sit through a movie without looking at our phones, we need to announce where we go, what we eat, what we learn, and sadly, we do most things not to facilitate our personal and mental growth, but because it would look nice on our social media profiles. We have transitioned from asking people to “googling” almost everything, to an extent where one might even yearn for a casual social conversation. Do you remember the last time you asked a kind shopkeeper for directions? We are better connected with the world than we had ever been before, and yet we are lonelier than ever.

Under no circumstance do I aim to blame and criticize social media. I understand and appreciate how easily we can access the entire world with all its diverse cultures, literatures, religions, talents, and most importantly, people. However, I cannot help but wonder if we are ready and wise enough for this connectivity. Nevertheless, mobile phones and social media are already in cinema halls and in our lives.

With the rise in technology, and the arrival of ChatGPT, we are bound to get more dependent and addicted to technology than ever before. However, all is not hopeless and grim as it seems. There are always some benefits to technology such as ChatGPT, such as helping us get over a creative block. It can even help you create remarkable art and write great fiction. We must know how to use ChatGPT in order to make the most of it, without 'cheating' and compromising on your skills. ChatGPT guide to write a novel 10x faster can tremendously help you in this field.