Stow those smart­phones

Times Colonist - - Comment -

We don’t know how well co­me­dian Chris Rock per­formed in Van­cou­ver last week, but he de­serves a stand­ing ova­tion for re­quir­ing his au­di­ence to lock up phones and other elec­tronic de­vices.

It’s a pol­icy we heartily en­dorse, with the sin­cere hope that sim­i­lar mea­sures be im­posed wher­ever peo­ple feel com­pelled to wave their glow­ing giz­mos aloft so they can broad­cast to the world their self-ob­sessed “I am here” mes­sages. It’s a prac­tice that has be­come en­demic, and it’s rude, of­fen­sive and in­con­sid­er­ate.

Rock re­quires all those who at­tend his per­for­mances to keep their smart­phones and video cam­eras stowed. The de­vices are taken from the peo­ple as they en­ter the venue, locked in pouches and handed back to their own­ers. Any­one caught us­ing a cell­phone dur­ing the show is im­me­di­ately ejected.

Bravo! En­core! Would that we could al­ways have burly men in black T-shirts stand­ing by to re­move com­pul­sive pic­ture-tak­ers who don’t know how to live in the mo­ment and who ruin it for others with their in­sen­si­tiv­ity.

It’s truly won­der­ful that we can carry in our pock­ets de­vices that can cap­ture and share life’s pre­cious mo­ments. Dot­ing grand­par­ents can wit­ness a child’s first steps in real time. A mag­nif­i­cent sun­set might last a few min­utes, but its beauty can linger for­ever elec­tron­i­cally. The pos­si­bil­i­ties are al­most lim­it­less.

But there should be bound­aries, and a bound­ary is crossed when you can’t see the trees for a for­est of arms hold­ing smart­phones.

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