Cell phone user allegedly choked at Van Wezel

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Posted: Tuesday, February 5, 2013 9:31 pm | Updated: 9:06 pm, Wed Feb 19, 2014.

SARASOTA - It doesn't matter where you go these days, you are bound to see someone glued to their smart phone. At a recent concert at the Van Wezel Performing Arts Hall, things turned physical when a man got tired of a nearby woman checking her phone and attacked her at the end of the performance.

And while there's no excuse for that, it does have some asking if cell phone use gone too far.

“It’s a necessity, but to some people it’s like a dog chain,” says Paul Leffew about the growing popularity of cell phone and how many people use them. “It’s annoying. We spend money to go out and enjoy ourselves when we're not working, and I don’t like getting interrupted.”

Cell phone etiquette has come into the spotlight after a Van Wezel theatergoer was choked by another theatergoer for using her cell phone during a performance. According to the police report, the woman is pressing assault charges.

Although the people we spoke with do not condone violence, many of them did sympathize with the choker's frustrations.

“Anybody that goes to Van Wezel knows to shut your phone off, put it on vibrate before you go in. I mean, they even make a disclaimer at the beginning of every movie at the theaters, please shut off your phone, and yet there are people you hear talking on their phone, you hear phones ringing, it’s annoying.”

But cell phone use at performances isn't the only thing that has people riled up. Christine Vester works at Bonbon Cafe in Downtown Sarasota, and she says she sees people using their cell phones in distracting ways all the time. “We had a customer come in and had their cell phone open on speaker so loud that no one could order in the shop. So it was so loud I had to go over and say ‘excuse me, can you shut this down?’ And he got mad at me and started yelling at me.”

People also complained about cell phone usage in cars. But one thing everyone did agree on is that cell phones have become essential to everyday life. “Everybody has one, children, everybody…I’m going to get my dog one,” says Leffew.

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