Smartphone book readers on the train


I was getting the peak-hour train to work this morning, carrying my regular backpack and a new toaster for the office. I was catching up on the release notes for NetBSD 9.0, and playing a little Fate/Grand Order before the latest event finishes. This was a difficult balancing act at first, but I managed to find a corner to sit the bags between stations.

Then I noticed something that if you asked me before jumping on the train I would have given a probability of zero: everyone standing around the same part of the carriage vestibule as me were looking at their phones, but as far as I could tell all of them were reading books. There must have been a dozen of us.

Somehow I found this encouraging. Social media platforms basically treat us like addicts at this stage, so to see people eschewing—gesundheit—them was a pleasant surprise. The sight of it also made me feel calmer by proxy in a weird way, like I was in a hushed library on wheels hurtling through a tunnel and across the Harbour Bridge.

I might even finish my pile of Steven Pinkers and Japanese Light Novels on the train.

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Ruben Schade is a technical writer and infrastructure architect in Sydney, Australia who refers to himself in the third person in bios. Hi!

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