I don't know if I am getting grumpier in my old age (no prompting from my family) or if people are getting more annoying.

The more I attend events where there are large gatherings of people, the more I want to hit them in the back of the head with a rolled up newspaper.

I went to the Jackson Browne concert with my wife and daughter last weekend at the Orpheum Theater in Omaha.

Unlike most concerts, the atmosphere is more sedated. People dress up except for me and my daughter and come to sit and enjoy the music. That is not to say there wasn't some chair dancing (by someone who really shouldn't), and it does not mean the crowd was not enthusiastic.

I don't mind people standing. After all, at most concerts I've been to people stand for most of it.

But I have trouble with people getting up several times and having to pass though the aisle. This is not their living room.

It started at the beginning. The concert was scheduled to start at 8 p.m., and even though shows rarely start on time, people were finding their seats 20 minutes late, and it seemed like they all were in our aisle.

Why can't people show up on time?

Of course, when Browne and his band took a 10-minute break, a large part of the crowd again, most in my aisle took a 20-minute break.

Looking around, I could not help but notice how times have changed. It used to be going out was an event, a chance to get away from work, maybe the kids. And a respite from the general hectic pace of life was what people sought.

Now, people cannot stand to be out on their own away from their phones. I could not count the number of people on their phones before, during and immediately after the show.

What in the world do these people have to talk about? Do they have to pick this time to get caught up on the daily grind of life?

I have learned to accept cell phone cameras at events. Nothing brings back memories like grainy cell phone photos. But why do people have to talk, e-mail, Tweet and text during the show?

I have no idea why these people come out in public. We talk about how hard it is to get away and relax and yet we handcuff ourselves to our cell phones. I think cell phones are great, and my new one allows me to track baseball scores no matter where I am. What a great device. But people need to get some help and put it away once in a while.

I was happy to see two people waving their lighters in the air. They were far outnumbered by the people who tried to illuminate the theater with the light of their cell phones, but they had the right spirit.

Anyone who knows anything about Jackson Browne is aware he is politically active. So it should have come as no surprise he talked about the environment. He was hawking stainless steel thermoses in hopes of cutting down on the number of plastic bottles used and discarded. But some woman, five minutes into his return to the stage after a break, did not hide her contempt and went for a smoke.

Of course, she was sitting right in front of us, so we were privy to her running commentary.

I do not understand people.

If I'm grumpier, I blame these people.

Patrick Murphy, of Columbus, Neb., is the former assistant managing editor of The Telegram.