What we did on the CTA before staring at our smartphones

Do you remember what we actually *did* on CTA trains and buses before the proliferation of smartphones?

Illustration by Susan Wise

Illustration by Susan Wise

You know, before we had our heads down, our hands tightly clenching a rectangle with a four-inch wide screen? I figure this might have been as late 2008 or 2009. By 2010 smartphones were really becoming the go-to cellphone of choice.

Here’s what I remember people doing:

  • Read the newspaper. I wonder if readership of the Redeye has dropped between 2008 and today?
  • Peruse magazines. Yes, remember them? Quite a few have bitten the dust since the dawn of smartphones, including Newsweek.
  • Read a book. A real book. The kind you hold in two hands and weighs much more than a Kindle or Nook.
  • Look out the window. Daydream. Check out the terrain. There’s still plenty of good things to look at, just not many people doing it.
  • Talk to other people. You probably recall that. Maybe you’ve even done it lately. Interesting stuff, that talking business.

I suggest that maybe we all should try doing one of the above again. Could be something different.

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  • More than likely the Sun-Times, as it was of a size that one didn't have to wrestle with it. That would have been before the Conrad Black days.

    Readership of the Red Eye (I assume you mean print edition) really doesn't matter, because it is formatted for smart phones, and there was at least some time when it was free. The ADHD generation to which it was marketed probably never had the patience for a paper newspaper.

    On looking out the window, I still wonder if the razor wire on the L side of Graceland Cemetery (but not the other walls) is to keep the zombies off the L or people on the L out of the cemetery. Razor wire seems to be the main view on the north side, although I suppose one can see if Whole Foods has moved into the Dominick's by Thorndale.

    The thing you left out was looking for cleavage, but if that's going to be picked up on the camera, forget it. (BTW, another incident caught on camera a couple of nights ago, but machetes don't slash people, people do).

  • I love looking out the 147 bus' windows at the lake, and I'm savoring it more during these last evenings of light. Every now and then, I notice something I can't help commenting on. The stares I get are so sad, especially when I think of out-of-town visitors I recently took to see downtown. Their favorite thing was the lake. Natives miss it!

  • How would I have been able to read this blog then? ;-)

  • In reply to RFlores80:

    I do like your reply, RFlores!

  • In reply to RFlores80:

    There were things like mimeograph machines in those days. But. like Time Magazine continuing into today, you would have to wait a couple of weeks for your letter to the editor to be published.

  • While generally I was a Sun-Times reader I would read the Trib if I found one on a seat. I remember being so glad when I learned the length-wise folding trick and the special technique for paging through it without elbowing the rider next to you.

  • In reply to wegerje:

    Right. The broadsheet newspaper technique is not all that difficult once you know how it's done.

    I remember reading all the Harry Potter books in transit, in hard cover. I'd probably prefer the Kindle if I were doing it these days. The format of the book makes little difference; the point, is that you're concentrating on long-form content. It passes the time well and does good things for the brain.

    As for magazines, one good thing about a hard copy magazine is their ability to display quality photography in a good size and with correct color and resolution. Plus the fact that it's easy to decide whether or not to read an ad--if it doesn't interest you, you don't have to fight to get it out of your face, you just turn the page.

    I've already said all I have to say on the subject of talking to strangers because someone else thinks I should..

  • In reply to wegerje:

    Which raises the question whether anyone ever used the blue Tribune recycling boxes on the platforms.

  • In reply to jack:

    I rarely did. I considered it better to leave sections of the paper (in reasonable condition) on a seat so someone else would have a chance to read them. Reuse is as good as recycling.

  • In reply to CCWriter:

    Not if iBill has to sweep out the car.

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