Adam Aron, CEO at AMC (“American Movie Classics”), proposed to build several “phone friendly” cinemas dedicated – only – to those who feel the urge to use their smartphone during the screening of a film. According to the entrepreneur, it is an industrial strategy designed to encourage younger audiences to go to the cinema.
Troubling questions arise: is it a leap into the future or unconditional surrender? Is technology a new form of communication or its killer? Seeing young people who send each other dozens of voice messages one after another to plan a get together instead of making a phone makes us lean towards the second hypothesis.
In fact, technology must be able to serve man where it would be difficult or even impossible to do otherwise. A call from the top of a mountain to ask for help would have been unthinkable some time ago. Remote diagnostics for people affected by myocardial infarction who are in critical condition is certainly positive. Yet, when the phone itself becomes a tool we become addicted to, we are slipping into something different, which is very dangerous. We lose our ability to communicate, dialogue, and ultimately to think. And search for answers in a tool that turns into oracle.
Just think of the ability search engines have to give immediate answers to questions of all kinds. The point of reflection is that it is not true that it gives back a “random answer”, but the answers the system offers us. And who is there behind this “system”? It would be naive of us to think there is the void; There are algorithms (created by man and exploited by the industries), which correlate the place where we live, our search history, the sites we have visited, the purchases we have made and, finally, the questions we have asked.
They offer us a range of answers adapted to our needs, and in that range – which is already a filter – someone else decides what matter more and what matters less. And it does so instead of us.
That is why the idea of bringing phones even to the cinema sounds like dangerous nonsense to me. The only space of true freedom for Man is thought, and the most effective and highest forms of stimulation of thought are arts. Not being able to devote at least a bit of our attention and concentration to one of these is worrying. And probably we will find people who are going to ask their smartphone to find out… how the film ends.