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Photo Credit: BBC

Theater productions deserve our attention amid short-form content (Op-Ed)

Although far from rare, it is less common for some individuals to participate in theater culture, whether that be from a lack of interest or access to these productions, or the fact that other in-person activities such as attending movie theaters, keynote addresses, or concerts are more popular. 

As well, short-form content consumed through digital devices makes up the vast majority of the information and entertainment that we consume in the modern day.

When you put all of these factors together, it becomes clear that the art of etiquette for theater productions, or auditorium etiquette in general, is lacking, to say the least. 

When attending a show, it is very important to realize and respect that you are acting as an audience member to a display of artistic performance. In so many other similar social settings, it is incredibly common to pull out cell phones during lulls or lapses to stave off boredom or fill awkward moments. 

How many times have you looked around a room and realized that nearly everyone, if not every single person around you, is on their phone?

This is a direct result of our attention spans having decreased through direct, repeated exposure to short-form content on social media, the Internet, and television. We become accustomed to consuming entertainment that satisfies our craving for a beginning, middle, and end to a story, oftentimes enriched with engaging audio, attention-grabbing audiovisuals, and quickly-transitioning clips across our screens. 

We’ve become uncomfortable in situations with the slightest hint of boredom, reaching for our devices as a social crutch or entertainment alternative rather than respecting the efforts that went into the performance we’re attending. 

 This is simply not acceptable for theater productions (or other events, for that matter). 

By entering a situation with a mindset of respect, actively choosing to be fully engaged, and putting in the effort to reduce the availability of phones or other devices,  we can train ourselves and our brains to lengthen our attention spans, making it less tempting to lean on digital vices and fully enjoy the show, showing the hardworking people on the stage the respect they deserve.


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