Most of everything that seems to be a hot topic in tech right now usually revolves around a digital peanut gallery. Twitter is a fine example. You take a lot of interesting people and let them talk both applicable topics and BS. For the most part it works fine. You can follow the people you want, and ignore those you don’t care for. Case in point, I think Robert Scoble is an interesting personality, but I stopped following him on Twitter because his constant name dropping was becoming more frequent and more annoying. You can usually do this just fine in other “Web 2.0” applications as well, either by a built in option or skimming over comments.
However, there’s one aging form of social interaction that doesn’t need the increasing social interaction that it’s getting. The ol’ movie theater. I realized the other night that I hadn’t seen a movie in a theater since Cloverfield. And before then, I can’t immediately recall seeing one since The Simpsons Movie. It’s not that I don’t want to go or that I’m protesting high ticket prices, heavens knows that some of the best memories I have of my formative years were spent in and outside movie theaters. It’s that the environment and accepted behavior within movie theaters has changed so drastically over the past few years.
Let’s put it this way. DVD’s have been popular for around a decade now, and mainstream only a little less than that. Similarly, watching movies in your own home has become mainstream with them. It wasn’t until DVD that we had a way comparable to the intended form of watching films. Since that’s the case, we now have a generation who has grown up with them who feel comfortable eating, shouting, and generally joking around while watching movies. And that’s fine, you should feel more than welcome to fool around like that in your own home.
However, watching a movie in a theater solely intended for the viewing of said movies is a wholly different venue. A movie theater isn’t your living room, it’s an environment that is specifically tailored for one thing. However, many just do not get this distinction. While I may want to go in to see a movie, others may be carrying on other conversations, text messaging, whatever. I once saw a kid playing a Nintendo DS in the movie theater. Not before the movie, not during the trailers, but during the movie. Why are you even there?
These just shouldn’t be considered socially acceptable by the masses, but they are becoming that way. Those who share my opinion are becoming fewer, and the opinion that you should allow others to watch a film at a theater is by far not the popular one. However, by giving this up, we’re also giving up what originally was a more acceptable social theater to all. Sure you can watch a film at your convenience in your own home, but I guarantee you that you won’t have nearly as much fun if you wait to see Indiana Jones IV on DVD. Being surprised and excited amongst a crowd of like minded enthusiasts is the one big factor of a film experience that you simply can not replicate in your home. However, aside from perhaps midnight premieres, this experience may be slowly dying. If not dead already.
Is the advance in social web technology hindering already existing real world social experiences? I don’t think I’m ready to give a blanket yes to everything yet. For example, you can still go to a baseball game and not be burdened by such distractions. Though I do think I can say yes to the theater. What once was hardly exists anymore due to the “give everyone a voice” mantra of the YouTube generation.