Christopher Nolan on Silencing Your Phone

Taken from Adam Grant’s interview with Christopher Nolan for Esquire magazine, this is the single best reasoning I’ve ever seen for turning off your phone in creative situations:

Nolan: “There’s a mass belief that if you’re texting, you’re somehow not interrupting the conversation – you’re not being rude.

The person doing it doesn’t realize they have taken the energy from the conversation. If you have people in a creative environment where they have to concentrate on what they’re doing, you can’t have them wandering off in their minds. You can’t be texting somebody else and paying attention to what’s going on. If you call people on it, they’ll repeat the last thing you said. They repeat the words with zero understanding of what they meant. And then over the next minute, you see them start to understand the words for the first time. You can absorb audio information just at the level that you can repeat it back, without understanding.

It’s an illusion of multitasking. I started film-making when people didn’t expect to have a phone on set, when it would’ve been seen as unprofessional to pull out a phone. Phones have become a huge distraction, and people work much better without them. At first it causes difficulty, but it really allows them to concentrate on what they’re doing. Everybody understands. I’ve had a lot of crews thank me. With a set, we’re trying to create a bubble of alternate reality.

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