I think of it less as a cell phone than as a self-phone.
So in a land so fond of the individual's primacy over the group, it's inevitable that having a gadget that contains the whole of your life is more mesmerizing than, well, anyone else or anything else.
The proof of this in public places is constant. And yet some choose to fight back.
In the very latest incident of someone using a cell phone when they should have been watching a cultural performance, Kevin Williamson decided he'd do something about it.
No, he wasn't one of the actors on stage. Nor was he conducting an orchestra.
He was merely trying to enjoy "Natasha, Pierre and The Great Comet of 1812." This is a musical based on "War and Peace." Of course it's loosely based. If it wasn't, it would last until Google Glass is available to the public.
The one incessant thing about this particular performance was the alleged cell phone use by a woman seated close by.
Cell phone use is -- as always in the theater -- expressly forbidden during this performance. However, this was New York, where people think they can (and should) do what they like.
As Williamson told the Gothamist, the woman was a member of a group that was already being a touch disruptive.
"It looked like she was Googling or something. So I leaned over and told her it was distracting and told her to put it away. She responded, 'So don't look,'" he explained to the Gothamist.
Williamson is a writer for the National Review, so I imagine he uses his words carefully and accurately. Indeed, he has posted his own lyrical view of everything that allegedly occurred before and after his tossing the phone with cometlike speed.
He told the Gothamist that when the woman seemed unwilling to hear his plaintive plea, he asked her "whether there had been a special exemption for her about not using her phone during the play. She told me to mind my own business, and so I took the phone out of her hands. I meant to throw it out the side door, but it hit some curtains instead. I guess my aim's not as good as it should be."
Some might say that though his aim wasn't true, his intentions certainly were.
Williamson claims that the woman proceeded to slap him in the face, before failing to find her phone. And of course he was removed from the theater by a kindly security person. Or, as he describes him in the National Review: "a black-suited agent of order."
He was allegedly told that the woman wanted to file charges (there is no definitive news as to whether the phone was damaged), but, thus far, he says he has heard nothing. He says he's prepared to go to jail.
I am sure that no one would (publicly) condone Williamson's actions, while many will be (privately) admiring his compunction to do something.
This certainly isn't the first time a cell phone user has disrupted popular culture.
Last year, the New York Philharmonic ceased playing.
And no one should ever forgetby the Alamo Drafthouse in Austin, Texas, after a young lady was tossed from the movie theater for texting.
I wonder if the woman will ever come forward. I wonder if she is currently huddled with an $800 an hour lawyer, working on her defense.
I wonder, too, if theaters might offer their security staff images of those who have previously disrupted performances with their cell phone use and simply refuse them admission again.
It seems to work for soccer hooligans.