This Could Be the Greatest Way to Shame Annoying Cell Phone Users

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Audience members who take out their lit-up mobile phones during live performances in China may be greeted by a surprise: laser beams.

Ushers at certain concert halls and theaters in the country have been trained to beam laser pointers at offenders, the New York Times reports. The tactic replaces past methods of scuttling over to impolite patrons and asking them to put their device away, potentially causing a ruckus.

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“Call it laser shaming,” writes the Times. “Theater managers here say the lasers are the best solution they have found to a nagging problem.”

China’s unexpected etiquette-enforcing tactic relies on laser pointers, a technology that is less regulated in China than the U.S. Attendants at top halls including the National Center, the Shanghai Oriental Art Center, and the Shanghai Grand Theater, have been trained to shine their shafts of light on people’s brightened screens. They do this from behind to avoid damaging spectators’ eyes.

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Some critics have complained that the practice can be disruptive. Others, including performers, venue managers, and attendees who spoke to the Times, say they prefer it to the alternative: disruptively approaching inconsiderate gadget-graspers, and asking them to be respectful.

“Many say such ‘uncivilized behavior’ will stop only when people improve their suzhi, a Chinese term meaning quality or refinement,” the Times writes.

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