The Spaces Between
This week I have attended two public events and at both there were audience members who behaved inappropriately. Generally speaking, I like people. I like people of various races and ages, abilities and educations. I like getting to know people and I like spending time with people. What I am finding less agreeable, though, is the public.

The first event was a concert performance by a popular country singer and her back-up band. It was a very enjoyable show with two hours of songs and audience interaction. It was at times light and funny and at other times soulful and serious. Always, though, it was well-considered and well-prepared. Unfortunately, some members of the audience were shrieking, whistling, and heckling in ways that were neither well-considered nor well-prepared. They were just annoying.

Sitting next to me were two women who chatted and giggled throughout the show, and in front of me were women who made everyone in their row stand up so that they could go and get more beer while the performer was telling a poignant story on stage. When did an auditorium become a secondary family room?

The worst faux pas, though, was when the singer was performing her version of Silent Night. The audience was enraptured by the emotional journey we were travelling until a dramatic pause in the song. One fan chose that moment to scream out a yowl of approval which cut the atmosphere like a machete and ruined the artistry of the song. Clearly, that person was not aware that the silences are part of the arrangement. Music is as much about the spaces in between the notes as it is about the sounds. Why would you presume to change the creation by filling the space with inappropriate noise? Such arrogance is breathtaking.

The second public event I attended this week was at the showing of an IMAX film about the migration of butterflies. It was a fabulous aural and visual experience, with once-in-a-lifetime images and dramatic timing. Unfortunately, some of the schoolchildren at the back of the theatre didn’t realize that there are expectations for behaviour at these kinds of events. They talked and laughed loudly several times during the showing, and most notably during the cinematic climax of the story.

Perhaps they were the children of the women seated near me at the concert. I can picture the whole family watching a movie in their recreation room at home, talking over the dialogue, whistling at the people on the screen, leaving to get food and drinks from the kitchen, and giggling about something totally irrelevant. In my imagination they are all sitting together in a muddled heap on the couch, with no spaces between.


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  1. People everywhere seem to have forgotten (or have never been taught) basic civility and good manners. I mostly avoid public events for this reason. Sadly, it is not mostly younger people who are guilty. People my age seem to have decided that they no longer have to be considerate of others in public spaces either. I suspect I am becoming a hermit. 🙂

  2. I agree with you Anne…and I wonder if it’s going to just get worse, although I will say I recently went to see the Nashville Symphony and there were folks of all ages there who behaved respectfully in every way. Football games, however, are another story I’ve been going to those for 14 years and in the last 2 it’s been less and less fun. What’s with making noise during “a moment of silence”? I used to cringe when Lee took up for our rights as fans, but now I’m right there with him waving the security guard over when fans are standing in the isles and running to the bottom of the isle to get close to the field. And if someone wants to get in my row during a play…I say (in a nice way) “squat down there and wait until the play is over and then I’ll let you in”. Yep…I sure do and they do it. 🙂

  3. Most of us have experienced this behavior at some point or another. It’s not a solution but I make a point of saying something even if I’m ineffective. If the family is not teaching good standards of behavior then the community should do its best to make up for it.

    1. You do right, Malcolm. Until now I have always resisted the temptation to speak up when others behave badly, but maybe it’s time for me to be a community spokesperson!

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