The rise of Tweet Seats, where one can tweet an in-progress theatre or musical event with the sanction of venue management, is not disturbing in and of itself. In the past, going to a theatre or concert was considered a social event (that could any moment become a brawl, political rally or . . . . you name it). People spoke, threw food, and generally thought of the entertainment (and entertainers) as “peripheral” to themselves and what they felt like doing.
With the rise of tweeting and other social media, we again see the rise of . . . well, it’s difficult to say what. Is it narcissistic to ignore a play to tweet? Is it self-centered? Is it a case of I paid to be here, I can do what I want? It’s quite difficult to tell.
And then of course there is the recordablity of the performance, in audio or video, violating copyright and artist’s right to make a living. So there may also be an “I’ll get back to it” mentality at play (and with fractured attention spans, that’s too a growing trend.)
With a book, one can read the story or not (by putting the book down) but one never has the option of mentally removing from the story while in fact reading it. One must read it (unless of course you listen to it, but most books are meant to be read privately not audibly — pity that, but a discussion for another day) and therefore focus all attention on it.
The rise of tweeting in real time at an event in actuality means that viewers/patrons consider something more important than paying attention– themselves. And if that’s so, why bother to be there?
It does make one question the future of live events, and of respect in general for the Arts. If we are going back to 17th century behavior at live events, then are we going back to 17th century levels of respect for the Arts, and for those who keep them alive? One can only hope not.