How did we fill it back then?

I'm not one of those people who sees everybody on the train engrossed in their smartphones and wants to yell "why don't you look out the window". I'm in favor of looking out the window, but there's not always something particularly interesting to see. What's more, I think that being engrossed in the phone - whether it's communicating with someone, or playing a game, or anything else - is totally legitimate. Seeing so many people so involved, however, does make you wonder: what did we do before we had so much information at our fingertips? I'm not trying here to make a point about kids not playing games outside anymore because they're too busy with their phones. I'm wondering about the hours that perhaps we spent sitting on a park bench, or waiting for an appointment at the dentist, or (back to that train ride) rifling through a newspaper that someone left on the seat and hoping that just maybe there's something in it worth reading. Yes, we can read books (and we do!), but that's not always an option. Throughout the day we have numerous short breaks during which opening a book to get through a chapter isn't really available to us, but running a simple search about something that interests us, or looking something up, or finding a snippet of information about which we can exclaim "that's interesting!", or "I didn't know that", is. Quite possibly, before we had smartphones in our pockets that gave us this access, we weren't aware that we were simply staring out into space, biding time. Perhaps we now make better use of our time than before we had ubiquitous access.

Go to: It was nineteen years ago today.