Interesting article the other day in The Guardian about the fact that many people now chat online about what they’re watching on TV, while they’re watching it. They don’t wait for the end of the programme, but start commenting on Twitter right away about things that annoy them, please them, or make them laugh. TV producers are used to having their work viewed in its entirety before anyone tries to assess it. They find this barrage of instant commentary disturbing, partly because it often focuses on things not intended to be in the foreground.
I don’t use Twitter, so I have no idea whether this kind of thing has extended into the concert hall. Do people sit there, sending witty or scathing messages to their followers about the clothes I’m wearing, the fingering I just used, the impact of the tempo change I just made? I find this an unnerving prospect. When I went to Sadler’s Wells recently, the management asked us not only to turn our mobile phones to ‘silent’ but to turn them off altogether, ‘because the lighted screens can disturb people sitting near you’. I was puzzled by that at the time. Why would anyone need lighted screens during the ballet? But now I realise that some people sit there tweeting in the dark. ‘Orchestra rubbish in overture.’ ‘New costumes for mice tonight’. ‘So-and-so just did huge leap’.