Love To See The Audience Go Tweet, Tweet, Tweet?

newyorkerThe October cover for The New Yorker displayed it perfectly…trick-or-treaters at the door, parents on the sidewalk ghostly lit by their iPhones.

This supernatural glow occurs not only in outdoor spaces, but indoors as well. Been to a movie theatre, performance, or lecture hall lately? You’re bound to see someone checking their email, updating their status, or sending photos to friends.  The backlight from their hand-held device illuminates their dedication to the task(s) literally at hand.

The newest phenomenon: “live” tweeting. According to Crowd Science, 8% of Twitter users are tweeting from performances that they are attending. Are they tweeting about what the person in front of them is wearing/not wearing, or are they tweeting about the spectacle on stage/on screen? Or both. It has been noted that even actors from the stage can tell who has their PDA in front of him or her due to the supernatural glow of the user’s visage.

These occurrences raise the question of: is there an ethics to social media? Is it disrespectful to provide your own nimbus during a performance, or are you merely bringing theatre to the masses? Should meta-commentary occur before, during, or after the event? Is there a disengagement that happens the moment you start to type…or are you super-engaged, able to type tweets faster than a speeding bullet? Perhaps some venues lend themselves to an immediate (pardon the pun) exchange: panels, lectures, symposia, exhibits….in effect, those places where the lights are on and your own screen is not the sole provider of luminosity.

It is quite possible that unless there is some standard for social media etiquette, “live” tweeting could easily become dead “tweeting.” And isn’t a rockin’ robin more enjoyable than a dead dodo? Time and tweets will tell.

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Chad Miller
Events and Outreach

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3 Responses to Love To See The Audience Go Tweet, Tweet, Tweet?

  1. Ellen says:

    Here’s another example of that ambivalence: Last month at the New Yorker Festival the announcements before each event included the usual reminder to turn off your cell phones AND the proper hashtag to use when tweeting about the event.

    I personally try not to tweet during events too much, but it can be very tempting.

  2. Julia says:

    Chad – I’m with you on this one. Here’s an interesting article about the changing landscape of social media etiquette: http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/technology/8352295.stm, courtesy of @BigFuel.

  3. Megan says:

    As a musician, I find it annoying to see someone tweeting or texting during a performance, whether it’s my own or a friend’s. It is not only rude, but it is also distracting to the performer and other audience members. Please folks, if you have to tweet/text, please step outside between pieces or do it before/after the performance, not during.

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