If You Take Out Your Phone in a Movie Theater, I'm Going to Ask to Use It

Almost every weekend this year, I’ve ended up at the movies. In a relentless news environment, it’s nice to head over to the local multiplex, plop down, and turn off the rest of the world for a couple of hours. Sadly, I’ve noticed a disturbing trend: Even there, before the greatest spectacle that Hollywood can provide, people can’t stay off their fucking phones.


At a recent showing of John Wick: Chapter 3 – Parabellum, for instance, I watched a man come in halfway through the movie and immediately pull out his phone. As Keanu Reeves used everything from a library book to a goddamn horse to fight through one of the most violent ballets ever performed, this jabroni was browsing Reddit on a brightness setting I can only imagine is called “Hydrogen Bomb Test.”

And that’s not all! Just minutes later, a woman entered the theater actively talking on her phone. “Mm-hmm, yeah, okay. You don’t say? Well, I should really go,” she said. “I’m in a movie theater right now.” Yeah, no shit!

I wish I could say this was an isolated incident. In the last couple years, I’ve watched people become increasingly incapable of sitting through an entire movie without whipping out their phones. We’ve all paid upwards of 10 bucks to see this thing, but a significant percentage of the population can’t get to the end without reading that important text that says: “kk, c u later!”

If people were doing this discreetly, I wouldn’t mind. Unfortunately, this behavior is closely linked with a lack of basic knowledge about screen brightness. (Here’s a tip: Swipe down and pull the sun slider towards “I’m an oblivious jerk in a movie theater.”) An even more discreet way of checking your phone, by the way, is to take it outside.

Luckily for me, you, and anyone else who likes watching movies in the dark, I’ve come up with a solution: If you take out your phone in a movie theater, I’m going to ask to borrow it.


After all, it’s only fair. If what you’re looking at is so much more interesting than the movie we’ve all paid to see, the rest of us deserve a peek.

Is it a funny meme? If it’s so funny, let me check it out, too! I might even share it with my other seat neighbor, who shouldn’t be left out of the fun.


Naturally, anyone will be free to decline my request, but as long as your phone is out, I’ll be asking. Just let me borrow it, man, c’mon! And when I’m done, I’ll turn the brightness setting down, leaving it a bit less eye-catching.

Strangely, since committing myself to this course of action, I haven’t had the chance to try it. At the last few movies I’ve been to, no one has taken out their phones. Maybe other moviegoers can sense my newfound interest in their screens. Maybe they’ve rediscovered the magic of film. Maybe they just haven’t been annoying dicks.


Either way, I suggest you try it out yourself. At the very least, you’ll no longer worry about having your movie experience interrupted. When I head off to the movies these days, I look forward to the interesting emails I might read, the texts I might see, and the funny memes that—if they’re worth looking at, at all—deserved to be shared.



People talk about the communal experience of seeing a movie in the theater as opposed to at home- how important that is to the art form etc etc...

The communal experience, being around other people, that’s the one part I can do without...

It’s not that I don’t like people, I just feel better when they’re not around.