Should We Let Cell Phones Ruin Great Moments for People There?

It was one of the most moving events of the conference. Perhaps in my life. Or it could have been. My great seat didn't matter.

As soon as the talented South African storyteller entered the stage, it was all over. The cell phone mob rushed the stage. Jostling to raise their arms above each other and film the moment – ruining it for the other 1000+ people in the tent. Someone got some decent film, maybe.. On a low Rez camera that they may have shown someone who could barely appreciate it with shoddy garbled sound from being too close to the speakers.

Or maybe someone live streamed letting others see it (and likely breaking every copyright rule while at it.) Doubtful with the poor cell service in South Africa.

You know I believe cell phones have their uses but if you sense a rant coming on, that is because it is.

People at an event should take priority over virtual participants
We paid the money. We took the trip. We waited in line for tickets to the conference.

When you rush the stage with cell phones held high you are cheating and you are rude.

You are cheating us out of our experience.

You are rude because you are saying that your film shoot is more important than everyone behind you who is blocked from seeing ANYTHING. Your filming is less important than those who are there.

Even if you are a blogger with thousands of readers you are not more important than the people there.

I took the picture above and I am a blogger with thousands of readers and my hiney was in the seat.

The problem was that the event HAD cameras and you were even blocking those. You were rude. You were stealing. You were likely even stealing from the performers who could no longer see us -the audience but only the arms with the cell phones held high. They also have artistic rights to their music as did their client to this performance.

These are the things we need to start talking about. NOW. ENOUGH!!!!

Time To Talk Manners

I love cell phones. They are good for certain things but when I couldn't see the first pirates of the carribean movie because of the blinking blue tooth headset on the guy in front of me, I realized that we have to learn the POLITE way to integrate these tools into society

There are the kinds of things we talk about in our Digiteen project at school.

Like the wreck I had where a woman hit me when she ran the light. I had two witnesses both of whom had a foggy recollection because their cell phone conversations were more important than watching what was happening at the busy intersection.

Who is running who!?

Our devices are to improve our lives.

Don't blame it on the marketers. You don't have to answer every phone call, every tweet, and pay attention to people who aren't there.

Show me a nice restaurant and it is one where people don't sit there talking about Aunt Martha's hemmeroids or how Joe is messing up the business deal with his ineptitude. Take those conversations outside. Let the rest of us talk with our kids about their week or whisper sweet nothings in our boyfriend's ear.

Now you can sit in a restaurant and see kids gathered around an iPad watching tangled on their portable speaker system while the adults yell over the din and everyone 5 tables over is included in the racket.

Yes, good manners are important. I don't care if rug rats and the Simpsons and Tosh have made it seemingly ok to talk about bodily functions that made us blush in mixed company 10 years a go but I don't want to hear it at a restaurant.

The Bible talks about a time when people lose their ability to blush. God forbid we ever get to that point.

Everything is not ok and it is definitely not all good. I am making a call to bloggers and teachers out there to start having conversations about what is good for public behavior and not. Otherwise we sink to the lowest common denominator. People who don't care about others.

As for me:

  • If I am in public, I will go outside to have a phone conversation.
  • My ringer will be on silent in public.
  • I will pay attention to my family and ignore texts unless there is a life threatening situation.
  • I will not jump up to film a live event unless it is something I have arranged.
  • If I am running a live event people will want to film, I will have it filmed and make it available for those who want to share.
  • I will avoid blinking lights and bright devices in places that will impair the viewing of others.
  • I will work hard to treat others as I want to be treated.
  • I will be forgiving when others are rude but perhaps let the manager know after they have left so the manager can realize his clients would like peaceful places to dine and watch movies.
  • I will be a respectful, polite advocate for good manners knowing that the very word “good manners” will make many people who have a “to each his own” attitude angry. These people don't realize that each of us make up society.

Bottom line. Over one thousand people in a tent deserved to see that performance of a lifetime more than 20 people had a right to film it. If giving 20 people the “right” takes away the enjoyment of 980 others at the event, I have a problem with that.

It is time to talk Tech and it needs to start with those who use it most.

Posted using BlogPress from Vicki's iPad

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Vicki Davis

Vicki Davis is a full-time classroom teacher and IT Director in Georgia, USA. She is Mom of three, wife of one, and loves talking about the wise, transformational use of technology for teaching and doing good in the world. She hosts the 10 Minute Teacher Podcast which interviews teachers around the world about remarkable classroom practices to inspire and help teachers. Vicki focuses on what unites us -- a quest for truly remarkable life-changing teaching and learning. The goal of her work is to provide actionable, encouraging, relevant ideas for teachers that are grounded in the truth and shared with love. Vicki has been teaching since 2002 and blogging since 2005. Vicki has spoken around the world to inspire and help teachers reach their students. She is passionate about helping every child find purpose, passion, and meaning in life with a lifelong commitment to the joy and responsibility of learning. If you talk to Vicki for very long, she will encourage you to "Relate to Educate" or "innovate like a turtle" or to be "a remarkable teacher." She loves to talk to teachers who love their students and are trying to do their best. Twitter is her favorite place to share and she loves to make homemade sourdough bread and cinnamon rolls and enjoys running half marathons with her sisters. You can usually find her laughing with her students or digging into a book.

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Stephen Downes May 29, 2011 - 1:27 pm

It wasn’t the cellphone that ruined the event, it was the people jumping up and clustering around the stage. This happens – has happened, historically – with or without cellphones. It’s just people wanting a better view, for whatever reason.

Of course, it’s rude. But the proper response isn’t to say “no cellphone video”. The proper response is to say “go back to your seat and sit down so others can see.” Or even “Don’t stand in front of other people,” which would even all them to stand outside the line of sight of other people.

It’s important to focus on the right problem. What offends you isn’t the fact that they are recording video. It’s the fact that you can’t see. *That* is the problem that needs to be fixed.

Paula Bright May 29, 2011 - 1:30 pm

I agree with you 100%. It’s almost as if we’ve lost control of the experiences of our life. The ones we want to remember, the ones that are an important part of our lives as teachers or human beings, have lost their punch, unless we’re carrying video cams or recorders. What?? 

If our students were as aggressive as these ja**as**s we’d discipline them in an instant!

What is it with the current trend for immediate reporting? I love being online. I love being in touch with teachers who have my same beliefs and mission. 

But this—like you describe?—it’s simply bad manners and not right for educators to do this at a group even where so many teachers and others will want to share what they’ve learned.

In effect, it ENDS learning and commnunication. HATE that! :)

Paula Bright May 29, 2011 - 1:33 pm

Kind of like we’d say to any child who was blocking the learning of the other kids. It’s not that complex, is it?

But sadly, I think group-think would take over, and our quiet voices would be ignored.

Even if we yelled. :/

Childhood Myths May 29, 2011 - 1:39 pm

As a teacher, I have always insisted on good manners from my students. It is so easy to see those kids whose parents have already instilled them…but it is becoming increasingly rare to see manners, respect, and even responsiblity from all ages of children in the classroom. It is sad…

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 1:44 pm

Yes, Stephen, you are right on that example. It is about how to peacefully co exist with technology and notice, I was in my seat taking pics too!

Likewise in the restaurant example we need our cell phones just not on full blast ring tone with a rap song laced with profanity!

When I get back from church I will reread what I have written and interject your excellent comment as it adds the insight we need into this conversation!

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 1:46 pm

Yes, it was rude! I did feel educators should know better, but I also think the comment made by Stephen Downes needs to be heard. Filming isn’t the problem. The problem is the rude standing in front of others excused by their filming that is the problem!

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 1:46 pm

We need to say what society may not want to hear and we can change ourselves!

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

Jeff May 29, 2011 - 2:02 pm

Social mores need to be discussed and understood, now as before. Even though we are in the era of instant communication and gratification, manners and behavior choices matter.

Sandy K May 29, 2011 - 2:03 pm

Vicki, I couldn’t agree with you more on how manners are devolving in our society with the use of personal electronic devices, cell phone etiquette being the biggest issue right now. I would add to your list above “I will not talk on my cell phone while using a public restroom.” I hate feeling like I’m eavesdropping on someone even though it is not my fault!

It is also so hurtful to be out with someone only to have them answer their phone and have a lengthly conversation that is NOT an emergency. I usually don’t say anything, but the whole time on the inside saying I’m saying, “Hey, I’m here! I took time out of my day because I wanted to spend time with YOU, not listening to your end of a phone conversation.” Because of those feelings, I try not to answer my phone when I’m out with someone unless I sense it might be a timely matter, and then I say “excuse me” to whomever I’m with, and let the caller know I’m out with someone. This keeps the conversation short and to the point.I think you would like a chain of theaters here in Texas called Alamo Drafthouse. Before the movie begins, they show messages on the screen that say “Please turn off all cell phones. If you talk during the movie, you will receive one warning, and then we will take your a** out. FYI, using your cell phone and/or texting is talking.” It’s amazing, but I don’t think I can ever remember a movie being disrupted by a digital device in their theater. Sadly, I think we might need more warning signs like this to reel people in.

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 3:01 pm

Good behavior and choices always matter.

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 3:01 pm

We are always one generation away from anarchy. It is good to see teachers who talk about good manners and respect. It is part of our job.

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 3:04 pm

These are great thoughts! I think that more businesses need guidelines like this!

The cell phone conversation thoughts are great as well. Mind if I quote you and cite you?

Vicki Davis
Cool Cat Teacher Blog

Building the bridges of today that the society of tomorrow will walk across.

Sent from my iPod touch

EdTechSandyK May 29, 2011 - 6:09 pm

Hi, Vicki! Please feel free to quote and cite me, and correct any typos I made while you’re at it. :-)

coolcatteacher May 29, 2011 - 6:26 pm


Vicki Davis
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Leslie Healey May 30, 2011 - 3:36 pm

And by the way, not one of those 20 people rushing the performer even enjoyed the performance themselves. I repeat it over and over for my students: don’t miss your life because you are recording it for the future. Your brain has almost unlimited memory. And then they see why manners are just common sense.

M-A May 31, 2011 - 11:30 am

Manners matter. School is a field of experiments for students – here is where they learn what kind of behaviour is acceptable. Here we as teachers set examples and rules. Rules that should help them for the rest of their life. In twenty or thirty years, they will have new technologies to face, and probably new problems in what is accepted social behaviour. Whatever rules we tell them should be futureproof. Not “in this special case it’s okay to do this because I tell you so”, but “it’s not okay to do this because you wouldn’t like it if it was done to you”. Old-fashioned? I don’t think so.

coolcatteacher May 31, 2011 - 11:55 am

Great thoughts – rules of manners should be “future proof.” Kind of what Stephen Downes was saying about how it isn’t the technology but the fact that people were standing up in front of others. I’m beginning to think that many are using technology as an excuse for bad manners. The tough thing is – how do you correct people who do that without having bad manners yourself? It is almost like we have to have a societal push towards this better type of behavior. Wondering if we’ll see this sort of thing at ISTE?

Paula Lee Bright June 4, 2011 - 7:46 am

I disagree to a small degree. When I look at the picture, I see plenty of cells raised to record video.

Yes, there have always been oversteppers. But I really do think that the instant video-camera phenomenon has turned it into a wave of bad choices. I see it everywhere I go that has any type of performance. Most of the people in the way are recording. 

I don’t think it’s always been this way. There were rudesters, and the rest of us. And we could usually boo down the rude folks.

Maybe I’m wrong. But I tend to agree with @coolcatteacher’s initial feeling. (shrug) 

coolcatteacher June 4, 2011 - 11:03 am

Yes, but I think without the cell they would know it was rude to get in front. I think they used cell phones as an excuse for bad manners. So yes, cell phones are a problem but as I always say, it is how you use tech that is The issue.

Vicki Davis
Sent from my iPad

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