I Want to Escape


It was the late 1920s on the French Riviera. He was a handsome and very famous illusionist. She was an attractive young woman who claimed to be a clairvoyant and mystic. Would he uncover her secret and expose her as a fraud or would he discover something truly supernatural?

It was just at that moment her mobile phone rang and she ran from the room. No, not the attractive ‘mystic’, the woman next to us in the cinema.

Was it really too much to ask that for the 97 minutes of the movie we all agreed that we would escape into another world? Shouldn’t there be some kind of unwritten contract that as soon as you enter a cinema you not only allow yourself to escape the constant, urgent demands of technology but that you let others in the cinema to enjoy that escape too?

Magic in the Moonlight

We went to see the latest Woody Allen movie Magic in the Moonlight starring Colin Firth and Emma Stone. While it probably won’t make my list of all time favourite movies, it was certainly enjoyable. The scenery, the story, the era all combined to make it well worth seeing.

I don’t ask too much of a visit to the cinema. I just want to sit in a large dark room and be transported to another world for an hour or two. I want to escape for a little while and enjoy the power of story. Obviously that’s a little hard with a phone going off on our right and a phone to my left with a constant flash every three seconds.

As well as the ever present technology, people in cinemas, theatres and concerts seem more likely to think it’s OK to have a conversation at any chosen time. It’s not. If that’s what you do in your lounge room during the Sunday night movie, fine, but when you’re in a room full of other paying customers … show some respect and shut up.

Who is pulling the strings?

Talking during an event is annoying enough and just plain rude, but this constant attachment to technology is something else. Why do we, or at least why do some people allow themselves to miss the moment so that they remain available to march to the beat of someone else’s drum? We know it’s rude to interrupt people when they’re in the middle of something yet we often let people from all over the world interrupt us at any time they choose.

One of my brothers rang me during the movie. My son texted me during the movie. Strangely enough the earth didn’t collapse because I didn’t respond until later. They had no way of knowing that I was in the middle of escaping to the French Riviera with Colin and Emma so it was completely up to me to decide whether I’d stay in France or to allow myself to be dragged back to a dark room in suburban Warwick.

The Challenge

So here’s the challenge. While you can’t control what others around you are doing, take control of your own life moments.

If you’re in a cinema or spending time with others, decide who you’ll allow to interrupt you. If you’re not good at allowing calls to go to voicemail or ignoring someone else’s texts or notifications, switch your device off completely for a while. If you’re already breaking out in a sweat thinking about doing that or saying you don’t need to go that far, you’re probably just the sort of person who needs to do it.

If you allow the ‘fear of missing out’ to control you, I fear that you’ll truly miss out. You’ll trade a shallow connectedness to the world for the deeper and more satisfying connection to those closest to you.

How well are you managing technology? Is technology managing you? Are you in control of your own time and of who interrupts you?

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About the author

Rodney Olsen

Rodney is a husband, father, cyclist, blogger and podcaster from Perth Western Australia.

He previously worked in radio for about 25 years but these days he spends his time at Compassion Australia, working towards releasing children from poverty in Jesus' name.

The views he expresses here are his own.

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  • Ditto Rodney! When we visit our local theater one of the things she asks is we turn off all cell phones and unplug. I am happy to do that. The world won’t collapse if I don’t answer or text right back.

  • Amen!
    I find people who interrupt while I’m watching a movie in my loungeroom to be just as rude – but even more so when you’re paying to be somewhere to watch it. Why pay money to just check your phone all the time or talk? What a waste!
    Like you, I just want to escape for a few hours. My phone is definitely OFF. 🙂

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