Going to the Cinema Alone:
Why You Should Try It
By SEBASTIAN HEGMAR | March 8, 2020
Cover Illustration by Rania Djojosugito / insta: @ray_zorsharp
I assume that you have, at least once, opted out from seeing a film at the theater because you didn’t have anyone to go with. Either your friends didn’t care for it, were too busy or Error 404 friends not found. Whatever the case might’ve been, I encourage you to still make the trip the next time this happens. It will break you free from the irrational need to quietly sit next to someone you know for two hours, as opposed to doing the exact same thing with a fellow stranger. The point of going to the cinema is not to socialize; you are supposed to be occupied watching a movie while stuffing your face with buttery popcorn as if there was no tomorrow.
Going to the theater without anyone else tagging along used to be a foreign concept to me up until two years ago. One of my coworkers at the time kept preaching about how it was the superior movie-going experience. My curiosity eventually got the best of me and I decided to give it a try. To my surprise, it turned out to be a pretty cool experience. The seemingly impossible task of finding a date and time suitable for everyone was not a concern, and no one made snarky comments about me buying an XXL soda. I could wear a sweatpants-hoodie combination without a care in the world. The theater hall felt like my own gigantic living room – albeit, full of uninvited guests. To top it all off, I didn’t have to endure that awkward phase of uncomfortable silence between me and my friends during the closing credits. It’s all about the little things.
Most of us agree that talking during a film screening is unacceptable behavior, and that there are plenty of good reasons for why you shouldn’t go to the cinema on a first date; one being that it’s a solitary activity at its core. You only need your own ears, eyes and thoughts (and snacks) to enjoy yourself. So why is there such a big fuss about whether or not you decide to go solo? There is, to my knowledge, no stigma around going to the library by yourself – so apparently reading a book in a public setting is no biggie. Yet, the mere thought of instead seeing a film in the anonymity of a darkened theater hall is enough to give some people the creeps. A friend of mine even told me how she would rather go out clubbing alone. Big oof in my book, but to each their own.
I can at least try to understand why most of us prefer to go with others. There is a sense of comfort in being part of a group as it alleviates the fear of being perceived to be a loner. This is especially true for teenagers, but the unfortunate truth is that we all care about what others think. A helpful advice is to ask yourself this: have you ever paid attention to, or even cared about, whether or not someone went by themselves? I’m going to go out on a limb and assume that the answer is no. The thing is, no one will even notice you being there since you’re just an inconsequential freckle in the grand scheme of things. That is, of course, if you avoid causing a scene by showing up late with a bright flashlight to locate your seat (excuse me, ouch! Sorry, I’m so sorry). Try not to do that. In my opinion, a more sensible argument is that you want to share the experience with someone else. Laughing, crying or witnessing great moments with your friends can produce long-lasting and bonding memories. Seeing the gang break down in tears during the final sequence of Endgame is definitely going to stay with me forever. Still, let us not forget that friends can also be slightly annoying at times. Like when they force you to rate the movie seconds after it ends, or loudly whisper useless trivia facts they read on IMDb.
To be clear, I’m not campaigning for you to always choose the solo route even though it has loads of perks. There is certainly nothing wrong with asking your friends out to the movies as a first choice. You should not, however, let their unavailability stop you from purchasing a ticket. As trivial as this suggestion may seem, I firmly believe that it serves as a small step towards something much bigger: living life to the fullest.