I prefer watching movies on my TV to seeing them in a movie theater.  My shoes don't stick to the floor in my house.  The popcorn is healthier, tastier, and a LOT cheaper.  The chairs are more comfortable.  They don't show endless trailers and ads before the movie starts.  I don't have to try to hear the actors over people around me talking.  And these days add cell phones.  The thousands of points of light are distracting in the dark theater.

This is why Brandon Vezmar is my new hero.  Vezmar took a date to an Austin movie theater, where she spent her time constantly texting a friend.  He suggested that if she had to text she should take it into the lobby where it wouldn't disturb anyone.  So she did.  And didn't come back.  I would argue she did Vezmar a favor by removing herself from his life, but I have to admire that on May 11th he filed a lawsuit against her for $17.31, the cost of the movie ticket he bought her.

"It's a principled action against the person who exhibited really insulting behavior towards me and towards everyone else," he told KVUE-TV news when they reported the story a week later.  I don't know about the lawsuit, but he is 100% right.  She was disrespectful to everyone trying to watch that movie and insulting to her date.

I actually remember my mother teaching me theater etiquette when I was quite small.  Talking during a play or movie was unthinkable.  There was no need for the theater to show a cutsie animated clip admonishing people to turn off their phones -- OK, sure, there were no cell phones back then, but everyone knew to keep their mouths shut during the movie unless it was to put some popcorn in them. 

Vezmar met the woman on Bumble, a dating app, a week earlier.  The draw of this particular dating service is supposed to be that women make the first move.

Their Web site explains, "Bumble was born out of a desire to reinvent the antiquated rules of dating to empower women to control the conversation when dating and networking online. Bumble has made it necessary and acceptable for women to make the first move, and this is extremely significant because prompting conversation has led to the highest post-match chat rate in the industry."

I think Vezmar was justified in inferring that the 'conversation' would be with him, not some remote friend he didn't even know and who wasn't actually on the date with them.

You're in a room with someone.  You may be having a conversation, watching TV, or just enjoying each other's company.  Their phone makes a sound.  They look at it.  They start typing on it.  The intimacy of the moment is obliterated.  I feel like I am not as important as whatever is on those little screens.  My whole sense of self-worth is destroyed.  I get depressed, moody...

If the text interrupted a conversation, it... well didn't my mother also teach me it was rude to interrupt?  I don't blame the remote texter.  The person in the room with me has the power to mute the text noise, or turn it off, or simply ignore texts until we're done talking.

In an earlier day I had a running disagreement with my parents.  If the telephone rang they had to answer it.  In those days we were trained to answer the phone when it rang.  My feeling was that I just wanted to do what I was doing.  If it was important the person would call me back.

This is why solicitation and robocalls are so horrid.  They interrupt you for something that benefits them and is of no benefit to you whatsoever.  It is rude and selfish.  And irritating.  Did I mention irritating?

I don't think I know anyone who hasn't been in a room full of people, all with their noses glued to their phones interacting with other people who aren't physically there.  When did it become wrong or undesirable to show an interest in people who are in the same room as you?

CEO Tim League of the Alamo Drafthouse movie theater company offered Vezmar a gift certificate for $17.51 because he supports the idea that people should not text when a movie is playing.  The theater company has taken some flack for strictly enforcing its no-texting policy, so League wanted to support a man taking a stand for the folks who suffer self-centered phone-addicted boors every time they go to the movies, while also reducing what he called superfluous lawsuits in the courts.

Vezmar has also taken a lot of flack on social media for filing this lawsuit, but that simply proves the point that it has become acceptable to be rude to the people you are with in actual, real life.  Can it be that this many mothers never taught their kids theater etiquette?  Or just plain old fashioned good manners?

My takeaways from this story are:
  • We need better mothers, especially in our modern world
  • Next time I do want to go to a movie theater I'm driving to Austin to see it in an Alamo Drafthouse theater
  • $17.31 for a movie ticket???!!!  Are you kidding me?