“Tweet Seats”: Has Social Networking Gone Too Far?

Guthrie Theater Balcony Tweet Seats

Social networking has taken over the lives of humans, no matter where they live or work. In my short time in the online world as a tech writer, I have noticed the increasing requirement of social networking accounts in order to be hired for certain tech positions. These tech jobs only require a strong command of the English language and knowledge of technology and its features and specifications, but many tech companies still want to know if you have a Twitter, Facebook, Google Plus, or Pinterest account. Why does it matter that I have 1000 friends if I am capable of doing the job?

The answer to this question, however, is an easy one: tech companies want to know that I have an outreach or following by which I can become, indirectly, a form of “free” advertising for the workplace. If a company hires someone who has four or five social networking accounts, including LinkedIn, then the company can both hire a talented employee and promote its business, all at the same time. For startup companies, this saves time and money (money being the largest factor). Today, if you have social networking accounts and are a huge socialite, you stand a better chance at getting a tech job, despite the impressive tech writing experience of your superiors.

This same mindset is what has driven The Guthrie Theater in Minneapolis, Minnesota, to create what are now famously known as “Tweet Seats” in its facility. Tweet Seats have been created to house theater attendees who feel the need to post statuses and “tweets” throughout the performance without interrupting the silence of others. Tweet Seats cost $15 each and are located in the balcony section, above the majority of audience attendees who care about silence during any performance. Tweet Seats are not only attractive because they are located away from the typical “be quiet” yellers, but also because they cost less than half of what a typical Guthrie Theater seat costs ($34). These benefits alone make Tweet Seats a hot commodity for attendees.

However, do not be fooled: the Guthrie Theater itself benefits from its Tweet Seats. If the theater can sit attendees together who have “Tweet” urges during the performance, the Guthrie Theater may get a little advertisement and promotion from making its Tweet addicts comfortable. According to Guthrie Theater External Relations Director Trish Santini, “This cast is an incredible ensemble of comediants, and night after night they’re riffing and improvising – it’s the kind of show that makes you ask, ‘Did they just say that?’ Usually they did – and tweeting should be a great way to talk about it.”

It is at this point, however, that rubber meets the road; this is where I think that social networking has gone too far. Growing up in the ‘90s, there was a time to talk and a time to be silent, a time to listen and a time to refrain from listening. With social networking becoming one of the best ways to interact and make connections in the world, humanity has lost its sense of timing. It no longer seems to matter whether an individual is in a library, movie theater, drama play, or sitting at a noisy restaurant; now, no matter where we are, we always have a need to pull out our smartphones, play games, and post new statuses every 10 minutes to Facebook, LinkedIn, or Google Plus. Social networking may be a small, invisible thing to some, but it is destroying marriages, friendships, and our sense of rationale. If we cannot sit in a theater and watch a performance without pulling out our phones and sending “tweets,” does the problem lie with the silence or with us?