Theaters Embrace Social Media with Tweet Seats

5 years ago

In the last few years, every movie theater I've been in has made the same announcement about silencing your cell phone. Recently, some have added a reminder to not use the cell phone to access apps such as Twitter or Facebook while watching the movie. In fact, the Regal Cinemas/Sprint courtesy spot implores, "let's turn off our phones so we can enjoy the movie together. Your calls, chats, and viral videos don't mind waiting."

Though cinemas and theaters may have realized that this is a losing battle.

Rather than ask people to stop using their cell phones during the show, some places have created designated "tweet seats" for people to sit who want to use social media through the show. It's the same concept of the silent car on the metro or train, except in the reverse since fewer people want to be looking at their cell phone while they're viewing a movie or an opera.

Tweet seats aren't a new phenomenon. According to the LA Times, they've been around for at least two years.

Tweet seats first started surfacing at the end of the '00s. In 2009, the Lyric Opera in Kansas reserved 100 tweet seats for its final performance of Gilbert and Sullivan's "HMS Pinafore." In those seats (and only those seats) audience members could use their phones to look at tweeted content sent by the theater's artistic director about the production, the scenery and whatever was happening on stage. Audience members were also encouraged to tweet questions in real time.

It's just that now more theaters and production companies are opting to embrace social media during the performance rather than squash it.

There is an ongoing debate between performers and viewers about whether social media enhances or distracts from processing the art. On one hand, are you really present and engaged if your mind is constructing tweets or worried about recording the moment? On the other hand, I sometimes find that I listen closer when I take notes, and I'm certainly guilty of snapping pictures or videotaping the twins' performance at school, yet still believe I was 100% in the moment observing it too.

What are your thoughts on tweet seats? Would you use them? Would you be annoyed if others around you were tweeting from the theater?

Photo Credit: Movie Theater via Shutterstock

Melissa writes Stirrup Queens and Lost and Found. Her novel about blogging is Life from Scratch.

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