Editorial: Stow those smartphones

We don’t know how well comedian Chris Rock performed in Vancouver last week, but he deserves a standing ovation for requiring his audience to lock up phones and other electronic devices.

It’s a policy we heartily endorse, with the sincere hope that similar measures be imposed wherever people feel compelled to wave their glowing gizmos aloft so they can broadcast to the world their self-obsessed “I am here” messages. It’s a practice that has become endemic, and it’s rude, offensive and inconsiderate.

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Rock requires all those who attend his performances to keep their smartphones and video cameras stowed. The devices are taken from the people as they enter the venue, locked in pouches and handed back to their owners. Anyone caught using a cellphone during the show is immediately ejected.

Bravo! Encore! Would that we could always have burly men in black T-shirts standing by to remove compulsive picture-takers who don’t know how to live in the moment and who ruin it for others with their insensitivity.

It’s truly wonderful that we can carry in our pockets devices that can capture and share life’s precious moments. Doting grandparents can witness a child’s first steps in real time. A magnificent sunset might last a few minutes, but its beauty can linger forever electronically. The possibilities are almost limitless.

But there should be boundaries, and a boundary is crossed when you can’t see the trees for a forest of arms holding smartphones.

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