As a courtesy to performers and other audience members, please turn off blinking head-mounted devices

When a theater or concert performance begins, there is often an announcement asking audience members to silence their cell phones and similar devices. Some time ago, a light blinked near the ear of a gentleman a few rows in front of me throughout the entire performance. I couldn't tell what it was for sure, but it appeared to be the indicator light of a Bluetooth headset.


Five seconds later:


Five seconds later:


Repeat for two hours.

What I want to know is, was this guy expecting a call during the show? If his phone rang, would he answer it from his seat?

(Added: This was before Bluetooth headsets were in common use. It wasn't until after the show that I was able to guess what it was.)

Comments (22)
  1. BOFH says:

    My cynical conclusion is that he was a douche who wanted to appear important and cool with his tech gear.

  2. Bob King says:

    To play devil’s advocate, he just be so used to having it in his ear all the time, he didn’t remember it?

  3. Gabe says:

    I’m really annoyed by those cell phones with bright back-lit displays that people pull out during movies and such. Just because I can’t hear it doesn’t mean it isn’t annoying. Since it’s the brightest thing in the room, one can’t help but be distracted by it.

  4. Rick C says:

    I actually did that once.  I forget that it blinks.  Fortunately, before the movie started, someone said something to me, so I turned it off.  Since then, I take the headset off when I go to movies.  I also put the phone on vibrate.  On the off chance I get a call that’s actually an emergency, I don’t turn the phone off.  If I get a call that requires me to answer it, I’ll leave the theater.

  5. mikeb says:

    He probably just didn’t realize…  I don’t wear a headset, but if I did I’m not sure I would be aware of the blinking LED.

    It’s too bad that the people in the row right behind him didn’t let him know.  I think that too many people in the Seattle area think it would be ‘rude’ to lean over and say, "Excuse me, would you mind turning off your headset?  The LED is quite distracting".

  6. andy says:

    I agree with the devil’s advocate, Bob King. When I did my compulsory military service I got so used to carrying a gun at my side, since it was part of my uniform. There was a supermarket a little outside the camp (located close to a residential area, btw) where we went to shop snacks for the night guard/watch. Well, long story short I once forgot that I was wearing the gun and walked in there to shop. The shop manager wasn’t too pleased with that since it scared him & his customers (and potentially bad guys could try to steal it from me and then use it to threat other people).

  7. ron says:

    I attended a funeral on Saturday and saw two people who wore their bluetooth headsets the entire time.

  8. Nawak says:

    I have to also agree with someone :)

    I agree with mikeb: too many people are too shy to actually tell others that they are annoying. Chances are, they don’t even realise they are annoying others.

    They may also be assholes but you have nothing to lose at trying.

  9. DriverDude says:

    It may be that the people directly behind the headset wearer aren’t bothered by the blinkin’ light because the stage occupies a bigger field of view vs. the headset. But it’s more noticable to people furthur away.

    “pssst, tell the guy over there [pointing] to take off his headset. Pass it down.”

    [The people distracted by the headset are not in a position to tap the person on the shoulder: You have to be a few seats to the side (because the headset is ear-mounted) and a few rows back (otherwise it’s not in your field of view). -Raymond]
  10. Rich Shealer says:

    I was at a funeral and could hear someone’s phone buzzing several times through the service.

  11. Andrew says:

    While it’s not really an excuse to wearing a headset during a performance, I know my headset has the option to turn the blink off if I hold down the Volume Up and Volume Down buttons for a couple seconds.

  12. Dean Harding says:

    I reckon movie theatres and concert halls should all be magnetically shielded…

  13. Mike Gibson says:

    I just took my kid to a movie and they had added a notice about texting during the movie.  I was quite pleased.  It’s too bad in our society that movie theaters have to spend ten minutes telling us something we should do without the reminder.  I’d rather they do it, but still…  I’ve noticed that the warnings seem to get longer and longer for each movie I see.  That’s probably a good thing.  At least some of them are pretty funny.

  14. DriverDude says:

    I think this is an insidious marketing gimick. What is the point of a flashing indicator that the user **cannot see when they are wearing the headeset?**

    A little flash to confirm the headset has been turned on/off, or when one of its buttons is pressed, is useful. The only purpose that I can see for an idle indicator is to broadcast, "hey, look at the way-cool headset this hip, trendy Important Person is wearing"

    One particular Motorola headset blinks when a call is active. The manual says that is a feature to let others know you are on a call. Most people do not know the blink codes of their own gadgets – how in h?ll are other people supposed to know what *your* headset is blinking for?!

  15. Amen…what happened to common courtesy???  It’s not just the stupid ring tones anymore, it *is* the bright screens while people text message during the movie.  Once upon a time folks went to movies to see the movies, not to test their per-adolescent friends about how far they are getting with their new boyfriend(s).  I bring a bag of Reeses Pieces with me and just wing candies at people who do this.  If they get pissed enough to stand up and protest, I tell them to keep their f’ing phone closed.

    Of course, not that I condone any of this, or the following, because such devices are not legal in the US…but a cell phone jammer is a beautiful thing to have.  <vbeg>

  16. Worf says:

    Oh, don’t spoil the fun! Bluetooth devices are fun things to hack – especially when you hijack an existing connection to blast people with…

    (It says evesdropping, but it’s bi-directional. You can play audio to the headset, as well as receive it…)

    Might be fun to do in a theatre before the lights dim.

  17. Yuhong Bao says:

    I recently had a time in a class where a teacher’s cell phone rang, despite the fact that in school you are supposed to turn cell phones off. The teacher ignored it.

  18. Friday says:

    Mike Gibson: Unfortunately, those people would do things line these don’t read the notices, however long they are.

  19. Friday says:

    Mike Gibson: Unfortunately, those people would do things like these don’t read the notices, however long they are.

  20. aaron in san fran says:

    it begs the question – why do all bluetooth things need to ‘flash’ at all? can’t they do what they do ‘silently’ ?  … me thinks the flashing blue is nothing but a stupid marketing gimmick…

  21. David Walker says:

    "Blinking head-mounted devices" made me think of the Borg.

  22. Neil says:

    I have one of those digital watches that bleeps every hour (yes, I like it). Unfortunately I forget to turn it off during a carol concert, and Silent Night happened to fall just on the hour… d’oh!

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