College teachers routinely include a proscription in their syllabi admonishing students to refrain from texting and browsing the Internet during class. Online instruction is different, of course. (Uh…that could present a problem.)
For all the talk of syllabi among policy makers lately, it would be nice if students actually read the documents—at least the part about using electronic devices inappropriately during class.
If you ever need evidence that a college classroom is only a piece of a larger, more pervasive culture, pay attention next time you attend a live theatrical performance. Prior to the show, the audience will be asked politely to shut down all mobile devices. Then, after the performance begins, a knucklehead will light up his cell phone and start poking at it—talking into it!—while the actors or dancers on stage try to stay focused. It even happens in houses of worship ("Silent Night…CHIRP! CHIRP!…Holy Night"), as youthful shepherds, wise men, camels, donkeys, cherubs, not to mention the Virgin Mary herself, try to soldier on through the script.
Forget about the movies. That battle was lost long ago. You might as well go to Galveston and yell at the ocean as complain about rudeness there.
There is a larger question involved than causing Clara in "The Nutcracker" to break her collarbone or be impaled by a drumstick inadvertently. Those who text and browse during performances, and during class, must believe their world is far more valuable than that of those around them. Usually it's not an emergency they are discussing either, but a complaint about how bored they are at the moment or an impending social engagement.
Now for the weird part. A fancy new performance hall in Bellevue, Washington, has decided to allow attendees to blast away on their devices, with some restrictions. The leaders see themselves as the vanguard of an inevitable—perhaps noble—process. Also, it is no accident that this region of Washington is home to many hi-tech companies with lots of young, savvy employees, some of whom are undoubtedly narcissistic knuckleheads who have the cash for tickets. Just a theory.
Here's more from online magazine Geekwire, a knucklehead publication:
“This is the wave of the future for the people we worry about attracting,” John Haynes, the theater’s executive director, tells The [New York] Times.
That’s a reference to Bellevue’s legions of technology geeks, many of whom work at nearby companies such as Microsoft, Expedia and InfoSpace. Located at the corner of NE 10th Street and 106th Avenue NE, the new cultural center could make an attractive destination for corporate events, which the Times notes could provide an important source of revenue.
But what about the social taboos of texting, Tweeting or posting to Facebook during dance recitals, concerts or plays? Will those disappear by the time the concert hall opens in 2014?
Haynes tells the Times that artists who perform at the hall will be able to request no cell phone use, and they are even considering distributing small screens to cell phone users to dim the light during performances.
Expected to cost $160 million, the non-profit entity behind the Tateuchi Center has raised $62 million to date. That includes recent $1 million donations from both Microsoft and real estate developer Kemper Freeman. The Atsuhiko and Ina Goodwin Tateuchi Foundation jumpstarted efforts last year for the arts center — described as “a state-of-the-art urban venue”– with a $25 million donation.