We all need to work on being there

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View From The Newsroom By Brendan Heidner
Thursday, May 19, 2022
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After attending graduation at Dawson Community College last week, I could not refrain any longer from writing about something that has sincerely frustrated me over the last six months: horrible audience etiquette.

As soon as I raised the issue, my coworkers immediately flooded me with examples and stories of their own experiences. It seemed like maybe I was on to something.

I enjoy being a part of an audience whether it be at a movie theater, concert, musical – you name it. Unfortunately – as a reporter – I often do not get to just sit and enjoy a show anymore since I am trying to listen, write and take photos all at the same time.

With that said, the way I have observed other peoples’ conduct at said activities lately is appalling.

Why do people think it is okay to talk through an entire play performance? Why would someone show up to a movie when they are going to spend 90% of their time walking in and out of the theater? What inspires a person to show up to a graduation only to sit and watch Major League Baseball on their phone through the entire thing? I do not know, but it sure is getting old.

First of all, arrive on time. The listed start time of an event is when the program begins, not when you slide through the door to begin scanning the room for your seating options.

Next, silence the cell phone and keep it put away. If you can spend 10 hours at home watching TikTok without missing a beat, I think you will survive an hour or two without checking it every few minutes. Even if your phone is silenced yet you have it out, it is still a distraction to everyone sitting around you, especially if you are flashing your bright screen around a dark space.

But the phone is just the beginning, among the other items to keep in mind are a whole bunch of annoying distractions. Things such as: chewing, munching, slurping and rattling wrappers, boxes or bags; tapping feet or fingers; fidgeting; crumpling a program or singing along.

Also remember that the person sitting beside you is watching the same thing you are, so no need to tell them about it! Even whispers carry far beyond the ears of your friendly neighbor.

If you need to get up to leave, go to the restroom, whatever the case may be, wait for an appropriate break in the program or stay until the very end. Likewise when returning to your seat, pick an appropriate time.

Believe it or not, other people are listening – to say nothing of the people who may be speaking or performing – and having people go up, down and all around through an entire event is frustrating and distracting to those invested in the event.

If you show up to something that you knew would take some time out of your normal routine, just sit down and be attentive. I get it, sometimes listening to a speaker for 45 minutes when they were only supposed to speak for 15 can get frustrating, but walking out or publicly groaning, scoffing or rolling your eyes over it is extremely rude.

Before you start pointing fingers at your good friend, unknown stranger or even your own child, stop and realize every single one of us of any age – including myself – are occasionally guilty of violating these guidelines.

I understand there are plenty of exceptions, however what I have seen recently is simply disrespectful and it needs to stop.

We’ve all attended an event we weren’t wild about, but if you can’t do so respectfully, maybe work harder to find an excuse to stay home!

With Dawson County High School’s graduation around the corner, I urge you to use the event as a good time to practice appropriate audience etiquette.

If the valedictorian’s speech happens to go on and on and on, listen to what they have to say and appreciate the fact that they are nervously reminiscing with their classmates one last time.

If you feel your phone buzz, either leave it be or exit the audience at an appropriate time to check it.

These are just a few simple suggestions to improve our audience etiquette. I implore you to do some research and join me in trying to do better. Encourage others to do the same. If you don’t want to take my word for it, helpful websites include: www.writeout-loud.com/audienceetiquette.html or emilypost. com.

Next time you are at an event, take in the moment. In other words: be there or be square.

Brendan is a staff writer for the Ranger-Review. He can be reached at news@ rangerreview.com

What inspires a person to show up to a graduation only to sit and watch Major League Baseball on their phone through the entire thing? I do not know, but it sure is getting old.

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