To Text or Not to Text

A panel discussion at CinemaCon has heated up an ongoing debate about whether or not to allow text-messaging at movie theaters. DeadlineHollywood,, and other media sites have reported on it. Where do you stand on the issue?

Obviously, anything that would distract the surrounding audience from enjoying the content that they are watching would be a bad idea. But unlike talking out loud on cellphones, texting is usually silent, so if it's unobtrusive, it might actually benefit the show being watched by extending the coveted word-of-mouth buzz, making it more immediate.

Even with smartphones silenced, texting can still be distracting as people trying to watch the action on the big screen are annoyed by the glow of tiny little screens all around them. 

Personally, I encourage texting and posting status updates on social networks such as Twitter, Facebook, FourSquare, etc., before and after a screening or performance. At some events (concerts for example) it might even be permissible during the gig.  What better way to let your friends and aquaintances know about a movie or play you are seeing than by doing it in real time? 

The key is not to bother your fellow film patrons. People are already used to talking out loud during a show, not caring about the folks around them, that I hesitate to say it's okay to text in every situation. Yet, in some cases, the audience might not mind. If it's a rowdy comedy or action flick targeting the younger teen set, texting might be so much a part of their daily routines, it might be better for everyone involved to let the kids text to their heart's content. At least, that's what some in the motion picture entertainment industry are suggesting.

What do you think?  Do they have a point?  Maybe filmmakers will just have to focus their efforts on making their content so compelling that viewers will not want to tear their eyes away from what is happening on the silver screen, even to text about how much fun and amazing it is.