To the chatty bozos in the cinema: mind your manners

I LOVE a good movie - even more so when I can experience it without running commentary from bozos who left their manners in the carpark.

Why do people go to the cinema to have a conversation? There is already a conversation going on, one others pay to listen to. It's called dialogue and a riveting script has plenty of it.

The Post is one of those movies, and I finally got to see it this week.

Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks, as The Washington Post's publisher Katharine Graham and executive editor Ben Bradlee, are brilliant as they tell of the newspaper's exposure of secret government documents detailing the US's involvement in the Vietnam War.

The Steven Spielberg film did not require translation, but the bozos two seats away offered it regardless, even after being asked by others in Theatre 5 at the Dendy Portside to be quiet.

As the credits rolled, and after some deliberation, I leaned across to the couple and said: "I'm not sure if you realise how loud your talking was but … "

And with that, I was cut off and told to mind my own business.

I'm sorry - not sorry - but it IS my business when my ticket is every bit as valuable as yours.

You are not in the privacy of your own lounge room where you can pretend you're on Gogglebox.

You are in the public domain where respect for the people around you should moderate your behaviour.

This type of overblown individualism, a precursor to chronic narcissism, is all too common.

The Post’s riveting dialogue between Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep is easily ruined by inconsiderate audience members. (Pic: Niko Tavernise)
The Post’s riveting dialogue between Tom Hanks and Meryl Streep is easily ruined by inconsiderate audience members. (Pic: Niko Tavernise)

We see it in supermarkets when kids are left to run amok in the aisles - my children can do as they like because they're just having fun (and I can't be bothered disciplining them).

We see it in cafes when people, often with mouths full of food, roar laughing - if you're trying to have a quiet coffee, too bad, I'm having a hoot.

And we see it with breastfeeding mums who think whipping out an entire breast in public is acceptable - if you don't like it, don't look, because social mores that call for a modicum of modesty don't apply to me.

If everyone did as they pleased, we'd be in a mess.

Human beings are social creatures, and how we act affects those around us. Think of it as tossing a pebble in a pond - the ripples are the results of our behaviour.

To ignore those ripples is to deny our humanity.

In the words of Ancient Greek philosopher Aristotle: "Man is by nature a social animal; an individual who is unsocial naturally and not accidentally is either beneath our notice or more than human.

"Society is something that precedes the individual. Anyone who either cannot lead the common life or is so self-sufficient as not to need to, and therefore does not partake of society, is either a beast or a god."

I haven't seen any gods walking around, but I have seen plenty of god complexes and beastly behaviour.

There is no gene for good manners. Humans have to work at being civil, considerate and respectful.

In his international bestseller Sapiens: A Brief History of Humankind, Yuval Noah Harari, a 41-year-old historian from Israel, writes "a conscious effort has to be made to sustain laws, customs, procedures, and manners otherwise the social order would quickly collapse".

Mr Harari says because our social order is "imagined" or created by us, we cannot preserve the information critical to running it by copying our DNA and passing it on to progeny, as non-humans do, such as ants running their colonies.

Davina’s most constant refrain on Married at First Sight: “I’m here for me”. (Pic: Supplied)
Davina’s most constant refrain on Married at First Sight: “I’m here for me”. (Pic: Supplied)

In other words, we have to commit to being decent citizens.

For this to happen, we need to see value in it.

Pop culture and social media are selling a different message - look out for number one.

The most watched show on Australian television this week was Married At First Sight, and its Sunday "commitment" ceremony.

On the reality show, in which strangers marry, Gold Coast model Davina excused her deceitful behaviour by saying, "I'm here for me".

Like we didn't know. Never mind the hurt caused to others.

So it is with social media, when people feel entitled to bully or pour scorn on others whose opinions or actions they might disagree with.

Communication channels might have changed over the years, but treating people with respect should never become old-fashioned.

I'd rather have thought the bozos in the cinema might have agreed on this.

They were not members of the much-maligned "me-first" millennial generation, but a couple who looked to be in their late 70s and, frankly, should have known better.

Kylie Lang is an associate editor of The Courier-Mail.