Yesterday’s News Today

Last week, I took my car to {INSERT NAME OF NATIONAL CHAIN SPECIALIZING IN OIL CHANGES} for an oil change. After checking me in, the attendant led me to the waiting area, where he instructed me to have a seat and feel free to read a magazine until my name was called. So naturally, I whipped out my phone and started playing games. There were three of us in there, and I couldn’t help but notice we were all doing the same thing.

That’s when it dawned on me: nobody reads magazines anymore.

At least not in waiting rooms. And probably not much at home, either. After subscribing to Entertainment Weekly literally since day one, I let my subscription lapse last year. I had been reading it faithfully for 23 years (!) but issues kept piling up and I could never find the time to get around to them. I knew things were bad when I picked up an unread issue and learned they were making a movie about the Titanic starring that kid from What’s Eating Gilbert Grape and some two-bit actress named Kate something. Was it really worth $60 a year when I was struggling to keep up with the latest pop culture news? I just didn’t think so. I still receive Portland Monthly and Reader’s Digest and Food & Wine, but those are a little easier to keep up with since there are only twelve issues a year versus 52. (And yet, I did just read about some great tips for a delicious Thanksgiving dinner. In 2012. Maybe I need to rethink those subscriptions, too).

I guess I shouldn’t really be surprised. I cancelled my newspaper subscription a couple of years ago for the same reason. I was like, What? Nixon resigned?? Really, the only thing I miss are the comics. And really, the only comic I miss is Pickles. The golden age of comic strips ended when Calvin & Hobbes, Bloom County, and The Far Side all came to an end. There are only so many Garfield-loves-lasagna jokes one can stomach. My dad, on the other hand, has a strict daily ritual. He devotes at least 90 minutes, every single day, to reading the paper, going over every column inch. Q: What’s black and white and read all over? A: My dad’s newspaper! He can probably recite the name of every person who died in Clark County last Tuesday, the sport score to every high school baseball game, and how much a head of broccoli costs at Safeway this week. Me? I just heard about some airplane that disappeared. I hope they find it soon.

What?!?!
What?!?!

I love my phone, but it’s a sad state of affairs that a tiny 4″ screen has replaced magazines and newspapers. That a two-minute round of Quiz Up or a quick scan of my Instagram feed fills those otherwise mundane moments. And I’d wager to bet that waiting rooms everywhere are the same: full of dusty magazines being ignored by people engrossed in their smartphones. The traditionalist in me wants to decry the practice and pick up that latest issue of Newsweek. But my 21st-century short-attention-span mentality demands I play another word on Words With Friends instead, because Jill is nipping at my heels and I just can’t have that now, can I?

Thankfully, I still read before bed. But that’s on my Kindle, and after scrolling through my phone, a practice that drives me crazy…and yet, I’m helpless to stop.

Maybe I won’t have as much time once this new TV show I heard about starts. It’s a sitcom about this guy who is telling his kids how he met their mother. Can’t wait to find out who the mom – clearly the love of his life, since he’s recounting this long tale to his children – is!

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16 thoughts on “Yesterday’s News Today

  1. I must be a dying breed. Still love books, real books. Still haunt book stores for them and can’t wait to get some of them in hardback. Still read magazines, like Architecture Digest and a few others.

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    1. There’s nothing wrong with being a dying breed. Portland has Powell’s, the greatest – and on eof the largest – independent bookstores in America. I rarely go there without buying SOMETHING.

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  2. “nobody reads magazines anymore.”

    That’s so true, Mark! And I wonder, like how it is with music downloads, if magazine companies with lose business like music stores, because of an easier access. It’s the same with books. I mean the only book store still standing is Barnes and Noble.

    I don’t have a smartphone or a Kindle, however, I do almost everything online now (the news, watch movies, read books), because it’s so readily available. However, I do miss holding an book in my hand and reading it.

    Love that photo of the Nixon newspaper headline. God, I was living in NYC when that happened -1974.

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    1. I think that’s why most magazines now offer digital service, as well. At least they’re trying to keep up with the times. In fact, I would be more likely to read a magazine on my Kindle these days, so it’s a smart strategy.

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  3. I’m the rare person who does look at magazines while waiting since I don’t have a smartphone. If I know I’ll be somewhere a long time, I will bring my iPad. And I like to read the paper WSJ everyday, so call me a freak!

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  4. I would be quite content if The Far Side came back.

    But yah, I don’t flip through magazines as much. Except BookPage, which is a newspaper style zine my library gives out for free. I read that for book ideas to read all the time, but I do so with Goodreads open and cross reference all the titles to see reviews. I haven’t totally entered the world of the Kindle too hardcore yet. I go in spurts. But I am OBSESSED with audio books. I love audio books!

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    1. I have friends who are avid audio book enthusiasts. Considering that my daily commute is about 7 minutes each way, it isn’t feasible for me to listen to audio books most of the time. But I do like short podcasts in the car.

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  5. Interesting post, Mark. To be honest, we have no English language print magazines where we live, but if we did, I can guarantee we’d have some. I, frankly, hope you’re wrong about this, but I fear you aren’t. Then again, we have Kindles and iPads but no smart phones. Hope your week is going well so far!

    Hugs from Ecuador,
    Kathy

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    1. No English language magazines at all? I’m a bit surprised by that. Then again, I suppose there just isn’t enough demand to justify stocking them. Thanks for your input, Kathy!

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  6. What?! You don’t read magazines? Oh my gosh, Mark, I publish a magazine and pay to have it distributed to high-end California car washes. I wish I was making this up. Are you saying my books are just sitting there? We also have a virtual version, thankfully.

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  7. I was thinking this very same thing last week when I was in the doctor’s office. I walked in, no one even glanced up – everyone was too busy tweeting, playing games, etc. with their phones. I sat for the 10 mins. I had to wait watching everyone. I remember when people used to have conversations in waiting rooms! Now “nobody even knows my name”

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