Feeling bored and alone A_____ decided to see a movie. Things weren’t going well in her personal life. She hadn’t had a boyfriend since before she could remember. She always struggled to maintain close relationships with friends, almost always losing touch, slowly, over time, until communication turned into a trickle before ceasing completely. Some family was somewhat close, but even they stayed at arm’s length, distant and always in the background of her life. Friends by circumstance and not by preference. Nobody was to blame. It’s just the way things turned out. A_____ wasn’t especially perturbed by it all. It was a matter of preference. Or at least that’s what she assumed. Her motivations were never very clear, even to herself. It wasn’t something she spent a lot of time thinking about. She could always find things to do alone to occupy her time and mind.
But there were some odd times when the boredom of that atomized life became nearly unbearable. When the walls seemed to be caving in on top of her. Moments when she needed to just get outside and go somewhere, be with other people in a real place, or even just let out a full-bodied scream. A movie theater was usually the easiest outlet. Something about sitting in the dark, alone in a faceless crowd, that appealed to her. Being part of a whole, all experiencing essentially the same thing at the same time. A community that doesn’t require small-talk or even eye contact. They can look at something together and know others are there too. Nothing is being asked. You purchase a ticket, take a seat, feel the other bodies around you, breathing, thinking, sharing the space, before the lights go out and everyone is projected into another world.
On the other side of town, Z_____ and L_____ lazed around their shared apartment, listless and bored. They sat on opposite of ends of a couch, combing through social media sites on their phones, then email, then a news story or two, then more social media, then text messages, then nothing. A pause, a rupture in continuity. All the usual stuff done with no ideas in mind. The adrenaline rush of clicks and links and likes had run its logical course and there was now new time to kill. A void to be filled with an activity, with thought, with consideration.
Z_____ looked up from her phone and said “let’s do something.” “Ok, like what,” replied L_____. “I don’t know. How about a movie? The new action-thriller-comedy-superhero thing is playing at the multiplex,” said Z_____. L_____ considered the suggestion for a moment, searching for more information on her phone, reading snippets of reviews, thinking about the pros and cons while Z_____ looked on, used to L______’s long deliberations in the face of almost any real-life decision, which oddly was the opposite of her digital persona, where she routinely acted on impulse, unafraid to make rash decisions and suffer the minor consequences. Real-life was something L_____ was less sure about. Everything felt daunting, filled with too many possibilities and ambiguities, making decisions sometimes difficult to reach. Z_____ finally gave up waiting and without a word left the sofa. Just as Z_____ was leaving the room L_____ finally replied, “It’s a good idea, but I don’t think I want to go. I hate being stuck in a theater. Everyone talking over the movie, chomping on popcorn, the sticky floor, it’s all kind of gross. And we have to kind of sit through the whole thing, which sucks. You know, you go though. Don’t let me stop you. I’m going to stay here, maybe watch something on my phone.” Z_____ shrugged, already expecting the response. Z_____ went to her bedroom and instead of going to the theater alone she started looking for something to watch on her laptop. L_____ had convinced her it was the better idea.
Movie theaters are the perfect microcosm of our society. We either want to be alone together or can’t stand the idiosyncrasies of others, sometimes both.