In a recent episode of “Smash,” a show that from the start had little appeal west of the Hudson, producers injected social media into the middle of a Broadway show running live tweets from the audience and contacting them on their cell phones during the show. This little "innovation" appeared to delight the audience, which became preoccupied with their devices. Looked to me like the main stage of almost every ad tech industry show you've been to in the past few years -- and yet another reason why “Smash” is in the late stages of its languishing death throes. They cut away before undoubtedly a disembodied announcer told the crowd to AGAIN turn off their mobile devices so the show could resume.
Meanwhile, the Television Bureau of Advertising is trotting out charts that show some sort of correlation between social media activity and brand fans of advertisers in shows where the audience was actively tweeting, etc.
Am I alone in thinking social media is more interruptive than additive to the entertainment experience? Look at footage from concerts and the crowd is nothing but a sea of cell phones taping the stage. Isn't it hard to rock and roll on your tiptoes with one arm extended over your head to get the best video shot? Similarly, isn't it hard to focus on the plot line of a TV drama if you are constantly looking away to tweet or be tweeted? Is it so impossible to sit still for an hour and a half in a darkened movie theater and NOT check the status of this or that on your cell phone? New surveys this week show that increasingly, nobody is turning off their electronics -- even for takeoff.
What's next? Are we going to stop Act III and poll the audience to see if Tosca should hurl herself to her death? Or post over the proscenium audience reaction on social media to Cavaradossi's execution? Here's an idea -- let's post audience commentary on the conductor's performance or the second violin's. Let's not stop there. How about we run a social media crawl under the State of the Union address so that opposition voices can trash the President 's words as he speaks them? Or use those massive video screens in football stadiums to criticize the play calling or the performance of the guy drafted in the first round last month.
Or here is a better idea. Turn the damned stuff off once in a while. Enjoy the quiet. Get fully engaged in whatever your choice of entertainment and save "sharing" about it until you are done. There is no urgency to stay connected. It is a state of mind. Cure yourself and enjoy being in the moment.