Growing up in the ‘80s, I was exposed to a generous helping of the prime parental meme that circulated amongst households above a certain median income: A long time ago, families ate dinner together and had civil discussion.

Also known as The Lost Art of Dinnertime Conversation, it was another chronicling of the ever-shifting cultural tectonics, the kind relayed across a generation gap.

If I was blind to the rapture of mealtime chitchat, then I am only too aware of various new cultural retrogressions, one of which in particular strikes a savage blow to my psyche.

Years from now, it will be christened The Lost Art of Being Silent During the Movie and it will begin as such: A long time ago, people went to the theatre and they actually sat quietly.

Are people just no longer aware that it’s rude to talk during the show?

In many instances, negligent parenting is the obvious culprit, but with some persons — those of a sufficiently advanced age — the only plausible explanation is they were simply never clued in, pre-show warnings be damned.

High-schoolers aren’t the worst offenders but they are hellions. At that age, I railed against the injustice of being forbidden from attending R-rated movies.

Now the wisdom blinds.

The compulsion for adolescents to elicit a reaction from one another must surely be grounded in an evolutionary basis.

With vexing frequency, parents bring infants to R-rated shows.

I am intrigued every time a couple rolls a baby stroller in with junior asleep — or not — and parks down front in the fast-break row.

I’m certain you can’t bring a 5-year-old to the movie theater, but is there some pre-awareness clause in the theatre by law that allows a baby?

It’s probably in there next to the couldn’t-find-a-sitter proviso. Take that, MPAA.

In this era, you must make your peace with the fact that not all cell phones will be silenced and at some point you will be alerted to this lapse in judgment.

Texting is equally obnoxious, though.

Why not wave a flashlight around while you’re at it?

A few times I have asked the transgressors to can it (politely). But usually — let’s face it — if you don’t fear being threatened, you fear a brilliant example of your own impotence.

And even if the offenders acquiesce, the balance is never fully re-established; you just wind up tense for the remainder of the movie.

“If you don’t like it, you can fucking move.” I’ve been told this a handful of times.

God help me. I wish I was a little bigger and had visible scars.

You want to appeal to management? Best of luck.

Unless you’re capable of pitching a spectacular fit, your money is going to remain in their pockets and not in yours.

You will, however, get passes to the next show and a good lathering of apology.

Theater monitors naturally have the authority to put the situation to rights, but not before a threshold of clear and present obnoxiousness has been surpassed.

For obvious reasons, their autocracy extends not so far that they can bounce someone on hearsay.
They might issue a warning but that’s usually the end of it.

Someone once remarked that it’s the critical second complaint that triggers their obligatory ejection mechanism, but in this era that is full of disputes, I’m not so sure of even that.

The last time I saw someone forcibly removed, I was 8 and the world was a lot less squishy on particulars.

In the end, left unchallenged and unchecked, hooliganism soldiers on. Civility takes one in the eye, again.

The movies were such fun for a while there.