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Mobiles being used during a performance is a great bugbear of mine, and I have had many a 'heated debate' with culprits. People look so surprised, and rather offended that I am daring to pick them up on it, or that they might be annoying someone.

 

Trouble is, I think people are just too self obsessed and in their own worlds for it to occur to them that they are being a nuisance (to put it politely) to others. Why spend all that time and money on attending a performance, if you are not going to watch what you have paid to see? Put your blinking phone down for 40 minutes, and watch the stage.

 

Rant over, but boy, it annoys me.

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Isn't there an announcement right before the performance to switch off your phone? Here they do it in German and English. It works. Thank God drinks etc are not allowed in Opera houses here. Last week I've been to a Nils Frahm concert at Funkhaus Berlin (maybe some of you know the pianist/Sound wizard) and some people were constantly playing "beer bottle bowling", since bottles were allowed inside. We were so annoyed!!! 

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Well I think we just found the answer to why some venues don’t have high ticket sales for ENB or other touring dance companies’ performances....behaviour such as this!

 

If it’s a pop concert where dancing, singing along, waving light sticks, etc are encouraged as part of the party atmosphere, then scrolling and texting on a bright mobile phone is fair enough, amid all the other activities going on. Or munching popcorn or snacks at a cinema screening, which is customary. Seems like some patrons have gotten confused as to which venue and what entertainment they thought they were attending.

 

As a result, many loyal dancegoers who have had to put up with such behaviour don’t return- and many would prefer to make the long trek to venues like ROH instead, where such behaviour is not condoned and a more conducive viewing atmosphere exists.

 

Public system announcements not followed up by action tends to give the message that the ushers are too meek to enforce rules so miscreants just ignore the announcements. 

 

By the way, regarding respectful behaviour, Wigmore Hall even has little notices in their programmes at song recitals requesting patrons not to turn their pages at the wrong moment (by asking them to wait until the entire section of the programme is finished before turning a page) if following the printed lyrics in them, as the noise from multiple people flicking pages at the same time “fffuffft!” can be quite loud - loud enough to drown out a quiet passage of music or singing and ruin it for the audience and distract the performers when people turn too early! The directions are heeded  by everyone and it is lovely sitting in such an audience where there is obvious respect for both performers and fellow patrons. 

 

Venues should have staff going up personally to remind - politely but firmly - patrons to refrain from  having lit (switched on) mobile phones and smart devices (tablets and fitbits) out and from eating. I noticed when ENB dance at Royal Festival Hall, the ushers do walk up and down the aisles before the start of the show, such that any would be miscreants are more aware that they are being scrutinised, and any misbehaviour during the performance is quietly and politely but firmly dissuaded till it’s stopped.

 

Allowing the auditorium to turn into a distracting and chaotic space is bad news for a venue’s ticket sales- the munchers and texters are not going to be returning frequently (sometimes not at all), but the loyal patrons get put off returning. I do hope that this behaviour isn’t repeated at subsequent performances because it’s a very good production and frankly, the hardworking dancers and musicians deserve better. 

Edited by Emeralds
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I suppose the sorry truth is most venues are so relieved to have an audience at all that they don't really care how they behave. The customer is always right etc. Which is a complete failure to understand the 'product' they are selling.

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Could you write to the venue and complain?  Perhaps it would be worth a try?

 

I am always puzzled as to what people are looking at in the first place.  I have seen people get their phones out at the ROH during musical interludes for scene changes, and it looked like they were catching up on Facebook and Twitter.  What is so urgent that it cannot wait 40 minutes? I am always appalled by it.

 

Edited to add could it be Snapchat?  The one where comments disappear after an hour? Never used it but I can see how addictive that might be.

 

 

Edited by Fonty
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So sad to hear of the audience behaviour, I agree it has worsened since lockdown and I found myself having to tell a few people off even in ROH for talking and using phones (I once even saw someone brazenly take a picture from the stalls mid Nutcracker, flash and all)! Thankfully the minority and when called out on it mostly because others aren't doing it they quickly realised and shut up/put the phone away etc. I always think I've not paid this money to listen to you whispering away, I want to hear the music! I do think I found it particularly in the Autumn/Winter 21/22 season, but it seems to have improved as people get more 'used' to the behaviours and norms in the theatre. But a few bad experiences in Giselle last year at the ROH made me wonder whether I should reduce how much I go in person, luckily it appeared to be only a few bad apples. 

 

I also have a particular issue with people being let in late from start/interval, not only is it distracting for those around but I find it a bit of a safety issue as well. I had someone sat behind me in the amphitheatre once come in late (so the lights were off as the performance had started). Due to this they couldn't really see where they were going and ended up probably tripping on someone's bag/foot, and they instinctively grabbed down to the closet thing, which happened to be my head. I'm of a relatively sturdy constitution but it was terrifying and also quite painful to have someone in the dark forcefully grab around my skull and push down onto it, not least because I wasn't expecting it. I ended up instinctively crying out in shock and fear, which then of course will have disrupted other people in the moment of the performance. All I got was a muffled 'sorry', and no attempt to properly apologise at the end of the performance. I imagine it could have been a lot worse if they had completely lost their footing and tumbled down into the next row, I presume this is highly unlikely to be fair but could be very dangerous. If 2000 other people managed to make it back in time, and you get plenty of warning, I don't really understand why you can't. 

 

I have had someone respond negatively to me telling them off about their phone (it was a quick 'put your phone away') which all but ruined the performance for me and made me cautious about calling it out again, although I still often do because otherwise I find myself distracted, and also to make a point that this behaviour is not ok and shouldn't be normalised. I wonder if others are better at tuning stuff out, or whether they are afraid of rebuttal when they don't call this behaviour out? 

 

I have noticed a lot more videoing 'secretly' as well - during the Nureyev gala I saw this occur and it was noticed and stopped by an usher. But why would you pay money to watch the live performance in front of your eyes on your tiny phone screen for the sake of what...so you can post it on instagram and maybe get it shared by the dancers featured (I really wish the dancers wouldn't share these videos, I find it probably inadvertently encourages this type of thing)!

 

As mentioned, it really is a dangerous spiral to allow this behaviour to continue - theatres try to appeal to 'new' audiences and keep customers happy, but you end up driving away others who respect what they are seeing and don't wish to have a performance ruined or get into conflict with other audience members. Why people pay this much money to go and scroll on their phone and chat disrespecting the performers and other audience members is both confusing and frustrating to me. 

 

I do think a quick pre start message to patrons, noting people are hear to immerse themselves in a performance so please no phones, no talking, (most venues won't say about food and drink given they have sold it) and to ask people to be aware of others may help. Was there such a message in this venue? That could at least be suggested and easy to implement. Also training of ushers to support them in tackling this. 

 

Sorry - maybe one for the audience behaviour thread! I agree that writing to the venues (or maybe better, call them out on twitter for it) may help. Practically I imagine things won't change, but if they can evidence they are losing patrons/business that would be the only way to reverse it. I can just about tolerate drinks in and food munching (though would choose not to, I always find it a little distracting and worry someone will spill alcohol on me, or on the floor), but phones and chatting constantly is a red line. 

 

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1 hour ago, JNC said:

So sad to hear of the audience behaviour, I agree it has worsened since lockdown and I found myself having to tell a few people off even in ROH for talking and using phones (I once even saw someone brazenly take a picture from the stalls mid Nutcracker, flash and all)! Thankfully the minority and when called out on it mostly because others aren't doing it they quickly realised and shut up/put the phone away etc. I always think I've not paid this money to listen to you whispering away, I want to hear the music! I do think I found it particularly in the Autumn/Winter 21/22 season, but it seems to have improved as people get more 'used' to the behaviours and norms in the theatre. But a few bad experiences in Giselle last year at the ROH made me wonder whether I should reduce how much I go in person, luckily it appeared to be only a few bad apples. 

 

I also have a particular issue with people being let in late from start/interval, not only is it distracting for those around but I find it a bit of a safety issue as well. I had someone sat behind me in the amphitheatre once come in late (so the lights were off as the performance had started). Due to this they couldn't really see where they were going and ended up probably tripping on someone's bag/foot, and they instinctively grabbed down to the closet thing, which happened to be my head. I'm of a relatively sturdy constitution but it was terrifying and also quite painful to have someone in the dark forcefully grab around my skull and push down onto it, not least because I wasn't expecting it. I ended up instinctively crying out in shock and fear, which then of course will have disrupted other people in the moment of the performance. All I got was a muffled 'sorry', and no attempt to properly apologise at the end of the performance. I imagine it could have been a lot worse if they had completely lost their footing and tumbled down into the next row, I presume this is highly unlikely to be fair but could be very dangerous. If 2000 other people managed to make it back in time, and you get plenty of warning, I don't really understand why you can't. 

 

I have had someone respond negatively to me telling them off about their phone (it was a quick 'put your phone away') which all but ruined the performance for me and made me cautious about calling it out again, although I still often do because otherwise I find myself distracted, and also to make a point that this behaviour is not ok and shouldn't be normalised. I wonder if others are better at tuning stuff out, or whether they are afraid of rebuttal when they don't call this behaviour out? 

 

I have noticed a lot more videoing 'secretly' as well - during the Nureyev gala I saw this occur and it was noticed and stopped by an usher. But why would you pay money to watch the live performance in front of your eyes on your tiny phone screen for the sake of what...so you can post it on instagram and maybe get it shared by the dancers featured (I really wish the dancers wouldn't share these videos, I find it probably inadvertently encourages this type of thing)!

 

As mentioned, it really is a dangerous spiral to allow this behaviour to continue - theatres try to appeal to 'new' audiences and keep customers happy, but you end up driving away others who respect what they are seeing and don't wish to have a performance ruined or get into conflict with other audience members. Why people pay this much money to go and scroll on their phone and chat disrespecting the performers and other audience members is both confusing and frustrating to me. 

 

I do think a quick pre start message to patrons, noting people are hear to immerse themselves in a performance so please no phones, no talking, (most venues won't say about food and drink given they have sold it) and to ask people to be aware of others may help. Was there such a message in this venue? That could at least be suggested and easy to implement. Also training of ushers to support them in tackling this. 

 

Sorry - maybe one for the audience behaviour thread! I agree that writing to the venues (or maybe better, call them out on twitter for it) may help. Practically I imagine things won't change, but if they can evidence they are losing patrons/business that would be the only way to reverse it. I can just about tolerate drinks in and food munching (though would choose not to, I always find it a little distracting and worry someone will spill alcohol on me, or on the floor), but phones and chatting constantly is a red line. 

 

I must say having someone grab one’s head is probably the worst ever thing to happen as a result of late arrivals, JNC- that’s horrible, utterly dangerous....you could have been paralysed or worse, oh my word. 

 

Which venue was that? 

 

i agree totally that being allowed to walk into a row in darkness while the show is going on or just after the lights have been dimmed is not on. Latecomers should stand at the back, or if there are unsold and unoccupied seats in the last row a few could be led (if there is adequate illumination) to sit in that row quietly. But even with regards  standing at the back, if it exceeds the maximum number allowed for standing room, should be limited to numbers that are safe and don’t cause a fire hazard. 

 

I once saw a woman at the Albert Hall turn up for a Prom - it was the semi staged production of  Oklahoma! - complete with Robert Fairchild making his  Royal Albert Hall and Proms debut in the role of Will. In the middle of a beautifully sung “Oh What A Beautiful Mornin’ “ this woman in front of me proceeds to take out a sandwich, a fizzy drink and some condiments out of her bag, and start munching her impromptu picnic and guzzling her drink very loudly!! (I mean, what the...!) ....to the consternation of those around her! So of course I leant forward and asked her quietly but clearly to stop eating and drinking until it was interval time. Instead of quietly putting away her food and drink, she proceeded to hiss and whisper very loudly (while the singing was still going on- and this was the front section of the stalls that curve around the Prommers!) “how dare you”, “I’ll eat if I want”, “who are you to talk to me” etc etc. 

 

My reaction was to mime a silent “shh” dramatically with my finger over my lips, and every time she began another tirade, to repeat the gesture even more dramatically with a facial expression of “gosh, you silly girl, you really must be quiet”. People around us started staring at her and grinning at my reaction, and when she realised I wasn’t going to be dragged into a verbal exchange she fell silent, then stormed off at the interval to finish her picnic somewhere else. I did inform an usher behind us, in case she decided to cause a scene later but she didn’t/didn't dare to. 

 

She gave the sound engineers some hard work that night deleting her noises from the recording (the show was being broadcast on BBC Four) but I must say they did a really great job! And somehow my brain managed to focus on Nathaniel Hackmann’s singing at the same time.

 

So if you do get a negative reaction, try the silent “shh” mime, and always tell a senior usher or the front of house manager next time- sometimes they will even move you to a better seat away from that individual if they’ve responded in a negative manner that makes you feel unsafe or really ruined your experience. 

 

I agree, disruptive audience members are a pain. 

 

Edited by Emeralds
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It was at ROH @Emeralds, yes it was both very scary and also quite dangerous. The man had quite a large hand so it fully encompassed my head (which is normal size I think!) and having a hand squeeze around your head and push it down forcefully was an experience…

 

I thought about writing in to the ROH afterwards, I can’t quite remember if I did or not but if I didn’t I imagine it would be because I didn’t want to “make a fuss”. But I probably would write in if it happened again, or I saw it happen to someone. Usually the ROH is quite good about not letting people in late, so I’m not sure if it was a post covid staffing issue, or just a member of staff who thought they had a good enough excuse to let them in. 
 

It was also a good 5-10 mins or so into the act, we weren’t just as the overture stage (although I think strictly speaking once lights are down no one should be allowed in). Maybe because it was later than usual the usher was no longer on the door? 
 

Gosh that woman sounds awful. I do genuinely wonder what runs through peoples’ heads sometimes - do they genuinely think their behaviour is normal and ok? Or do they not care? (Or both?) luckily others supporting you is immensely helpful! The silent shh sounds a good tactic but depends on where you’re sat in relation to others! I tend to do an angry sharp “shhh” if they are in my vicinity but if it’s someone further away I don’t bother as I imagine they may not hear (or realise it’s directed at them) and I don’t want to contribute to distracting others. 
 

while it can be annoying I do have a lot of sympathy and sometimes often support those exasperated who voice quite loudly “put your phone away”, I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough for that! 

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18 minutes ago, JNC said:

It was at ROH @Emeralds, yes it was both very scary and also quite dangerous. The man had quite a large hand so it fully encompassed my head (which is normal size I think!) and having a hand squeeze around your head and push it down forcefully was an experience…

 

I thought about writing in to the ROH afterwards, I can’t quite remember if I did or not but if I didn’t I imagine it would be because I didn’t want to “make a fuss”. But I probably would write in if it happened again, or I saw it happen to someone. Usually the ROH is quite good about not letting people in late, so I’m not sure if it was a post covid staffing issue, or just a member of staff who thought they had a good enough excuse to let them in. 
 

It was also a good 5-10 mins or so into the act, we weren’t just as the overture stage (although I think strictly speaking once lights are down no one should be allowed in). Maybe because it was later than usual the usher was no longer on the door? 
 

Gosh that woman sounds awful. I do genuinely wonder what runs through peoples’ heads sometimes - do they genuinely think their behaviour is normal and ok? Or do they not care? (Or both?) luckily others supporting you is immensely helpful! The silent shh sounds a good tactic but depends on where you’re sat in relation to others! I tend to do an angry sharp “shhh” if they are in my vicinity but if it’s someone further away I don’t bother as I imagine they may not hear (or realise it’s directed at them) and I don’t want to contribute to distracting others. 
 

while it can be annoying I do have a lot of sympathy and sometimes often support those exasperated who voice quite loudly “put your phone away”, I don’t think I’ll ever be brave enough for that! 

Oh my goodness, I know the area of the amphi you mean. (Ie most of the Amphi). It sounds like he sneaked in! One other reason why I hardly book Amphi any more, unless it’s certain rows or sections with seats where that can’t happen eg last row in a corner. 

 

The ROH always have a good front of house manager downstairs at  the ground floor foyer desk. I know the chap probably wasn’t meaning to maim or kill you, nor even to trip, but I know I would have gone down to mention it to them...and it is something they would want to know if someone managed to sneak past an usher and get in when they should not! PS even when it’s sold out, there is always a seat that the ushers know about where you can be moved to - it may not be a seat with perfect views! (Often it is a better seat.) But you will feel better being taken away from that environment. I would have spent the rest of the show worrying about who was going to manhandle me next-being grabbed by the head is really unsettling. 

Edited by Emeralds
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Also happens in the stalls.

 

Some idiot and his friends sitting directly behind the conductor in the front row decide they can come in after the lights went down and disrupt half the front row to get to their seats.  Not quietly either. I had half a mind not to move but that would have made the disruption worse. 

 

Very few if any ushers in the stalls. 

Edited by oncnp
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19 hours ago, oncnp said:

Also happens in the stalls.

 

Some idiot and his friends sitting directly behind the conductor in the front row decide they can come in after the lights went down and disrupt half the front row to get to their seats.  Not quietly either. I had half a mind not to move but that would have made the disruption worse. 

 

Very few if any ushers in the stalls. 


 Don't they lock the doors of the OS once the performance starts, to stop latecomers entering?

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1 hour ago, art_enthusiast said:


 Don't they lock the doors of the OS once the performance starts, to stop latecomers entering?


They close them but none of the doors can be locked while audience members are in the building (fire and local authority entertainment licence regulations).

 

It is normal for people who arrive after a performance has started to be shepherded to the Crush Bar to watch the TV relay. However, the problem @oncp reported also occurs in the Grand Tier - feet trodden on, an element of the show missed etc - but no apology or thanks forthcoming.

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19 hours ago, art_enthusiast said:


 Don't they lock the doors of the OS once the performance starts, to stop latecomers entering?

Dear me, no. Locking doors would be a security hazard in instances of fire, terrorism etc. where it’s a matter of life or death that people inside have to be able to evacuate the auditorium and building speedily. The doors to the auditorium are only locked after a show (been there done that - outside, not inside) once the ushers have checked there’s nobody left inside the auditorium. The ROH also lock (apparently it’s done centrally) some doors in the corridor that lead into the auditorium after the show once they’ve checked patrons have vacated, but the main exits and stairs are left open for patrons to leave. (I only know this because I’ve occasionally tried to take a shortcut from the right to the left to get out more quickly. 😂)

 

Also, it’s not just people sneaking in late after house lights have gone down but people who for whatever reason didn’t sit down, or got up after taking their seat, then belatedly try to stumble their way back to their seat - typically always in the middle and never the aisle! - in the dark. 

 

Just noticed, oddly enough, that this original thread was precipitated 10 years ago, by misbehaviour of some audience members in guess what.....ENB’s Swan Lake!  (See Janet’s first sentence.) Spooky coincidence.... 😁

Edited by Emeralds
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20 hours ago, Emeralds said:

Dear me, no. Locking doors would be a security hazard in instances of fire, terrorism etc. where it’s a matter of life or death that people inside have to be able to evacuate the auditorium and building speedily. The doors to the auditorium are only locked after a show (been there done that - outside, not inside) once the ushers have checked there’s nobody left inside the auditorium. The ROH also lock (apparently it’s done centrally) some doors in the corridor that lead into the auditorium after the show once they’ve checked patrons have vacated, but the main exits and stairs are left open for patrons to leave. (I only know this because I’ve occasionally tried to take a shortcut from the right to the left to get out more quickly. 😂)

 

Also, it’s not just people sneaking in late after house lights have gone down but people who for whatever reason didn’t sit down, or got up after taking their seat, then belatedly try to stumble their way back to their seat - typically always in the middle and never the aisle! - in the dark. 

 

Just noticed, oddly enough, that this original thread was precipitated 10 years ago, by misbehaviour of some audience members in guess what.....ENB’s Swan Lake!  (See Janet’s first sentence.) Spooky coincidence.... 😁

 

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I noticed at the Friends performance last night that a fair few people sat down or got to their standing places after the lights went down - several were banging around quite loudly.- obviously, this was a more relaxed performance though.

 

I had an elderly lady sitting next to me who thought it would be a good idea to open some biscuits and eat one at the start of the third act of the performance last night. - we'd only just had a 20 minute interval! The plastic wrapper made such a noise that, fortunately, she had the good sense to quickly put them away, so nobody around had to say anything. However, she then proceeded to cough loudly after a piece of biscuit got caught in her throat and she didn't have a drink to sip to help. Oh dear!

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6 hours ago, Linnzi5 said:

I noticed at the Friends performance last night that a fair few people sat down or got to their standing places after the lights went down - several were banging around quite loudly.- obviously, this was a more relaxed performance though.

 

I had an elderly lady sitting next to me who thought it would be a good idea to open some biscuits and eat one at the start of the third act of the performance last night. - we'd only just had a 20 minute interval! The plastic wrapper made such a noise that, fortunately, she had the good sense to quickly put them away, so nobody around had to say anything. However, she then proceeded to cough loudly after a piece of biscuit got caught in her throat and she didn't have a drink to sip to help. Oh dear!

Oh my goodness! 😮 If there was ever an example to prove how correct the ROH rule of “no eating food in the auditorium” is, that would be it! I hope she was ok after that! (The ROH do allow sipping water or taking cough drops/sweets/lozenges to ease coughs/sore throats of course.) 

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The review of Swan Lake in Manchester (see October 7th Links) includes this comment by Jo Beggs:

 

Something needs to be said, though, about the audience. A full house made for a noisy and restless crowd, who, although appreciative, were not that attentive. Post-lockdown it’s as though people need extra reminders to put their phones away, and that even whispered conversations can be heard across an auditorium. At the beginning of Act Two, after a brief scene-change pause, the orchestra was completely drowned out by loud talking until the curtain went up, and it took time for calm to return after two quite long intervals.

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I'm afraid the scene change between Acts I and II of ENB's Swan Lake has long been a candidate for people to talk over.  I still maintain that there ought to be something that can be done with the lighting to make it more obvious that the performance is continuing.

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  • 1 month later...

Having read an account from a very close eye witness, from which it's clear the person's complaints weren't confined to this particular singer, it sounds like there's some kind of mental health issue involved (though I really don't want to excuse what happened, which was clearly appalling). This is obviously leaning towards speculation but certain age-related conditions can lead to this kind of behaviour.

 

Best to move on from this unpleasant episode, I think.

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Given his age (mid-late 70s?), I tend to think it could be almost anything. Perhaps brain degeneration, a reaction to medication, an episodic thing, who knows. I did wonder how he was out alone but, of course, plenty of people his age are.

 

Hope he got home okay because he sounds pretty confused.

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3 minutes ago, postie said:

Given his age (mid-late 70s?), I tend to think it could be almost anything. Perhaps brain degeneration, a reaction to medication, an episodic thing, who knows. I did wonder how he was out alone but, of course, plenty of people his age are.

 

Hope he got home okay because he sounds pretty confused.

 

Everyone in their mid-70s has a mental problem and/or shouldn't be out on their own? 

 

Maybe he was in perfect control of his faculties and was just rude.

Edited by oncnp
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There are various ways to interact on the Internet. One way of behaving is to imagine - before you respond - you are talking to the person face-to-face in a group.

 

Edit: The post above was altered after I replied.

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10 minutes ago, postie said:

There are various ways to interact on the Internet. One way of behaving is to imagine - before you respond - you are talking to the person face-to-face in a group.

 

Edit: The post above was altered after I replied.

 

I'd have said no different to your face

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32 minutes ago, postie said:

The first comment, or the revised comment. The latter being less offensive. To revise your conversation, seems a complicated way to converse in public.

Either and both. I found the comment offensively agist.

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