File this under #WhatCouldGoWrongWithThat: Some theatres in the States are introducing dedicated seating for people who like to use their mobile devices to Tweet during live performances. The so-called "tweet seats" are areas where audience members are encouraged to use their phones to discuss the show over social media.
The idea of using a glowing screen to communicate the experience of attending a theatre or musical production seems in many ways to run counter to accepted etiquette. It's a well-established point of behaviour - at least it's supposed to be - that patrons should think to turn off their phones and handheld devices once they take their seats. This is mostly to avoid having a performance interrupted by the sudden outburst of someone's poorly chosen Rihanna ringtone, but the light emitted by users' screens can also be a distraction to fellow audience members -- which is why theatres such as Connecticut's Goodspeed Opera House are putting their tweet seats in the back row.
Most reviews of the idea seem positive, with theatre companies citing the increased appeal to younger theatre-goers as a definite plus, and many tweet-seaters describing a higher level of engagement with the performance.
(Not everyone is impressed. USA Today quoted one woman who sat near the tweet seats at a performance by the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra as saying the tweeters' "texting thumbs were moving faster than the violinsts' fingers ... They didn't even look up to applaud at the end of each selection [and they] missed out on what was happening on the stage.")
What do you think? Would you be more inclined to attend a theatre performance if you knew you could live-tweet the proceedings? Or does the notion that some people can't even put down their mobile devices for long enough to enjoy a production on its own terms bother you?
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