Proposed Rules for Conversations on the CTA

This is admittedly a long shot, but on the off chance that every person I’m forced to listen to on the CTA who speaks loudly enough for me to hear them were to read this, and then take my advice, the world would be a better place.  I think specific recommendations may help in a way that broad critiques of society, millennials, internet culture, etc. won’t.  Here goes:

You may speak about anything you would like on the CTA, except as fall in the  following four categories:

I.  Most conversations about your cell phone, such as (but not limited to):

A.  Conversations about how much charge your phone has left, when you last charged it, why even though ordinarily your phone is charged, today it is dead, or how your phone is always dying, or further conversations about countermeasures (such as free outlets in certain places) which you employ to preserve its charge, or about your future plans regarding charging.

B.  Conversations regarding how your phone is not currently usable, intermittently interrupted by your turning it on and off, discussing the hope you have that this time it will work, and then ensuing conversation regarding whether you will be able to live your life for the next few hours without it, including speculations about how you

1. “literally” do not know how to get anywhere without it,

2. “totally” posted to Facebook/Twitter/etc./etc. to let everyone know that your phone was dying and the detailed alternate contact mechanisms you suggested to them, or

3. “cannot even remember” what it was like when you did not have a phone, which leads to

C.  Conversations about the purchase of your cell phone, such as (but not limited to)

1.  how old you were when you first got a cell phone

2.  How strange it is that people who are like, older, do not see how important that is or

3.  further speculations about the allegedly world-historical nature of your experience of when you purchased your cell phone vis-a-vis those of other generationsG

D.  Conversations about the current status of your cell phone contract, again, including but not limited to:

1.  How glad you are that your contract is about to expire, because you “totally hate” this phone and cannot wait to get rid of it,

2.  How you “literally” just renewed your contract, because you “totally love” your current provider, mostly for relatively obscure reasons regarding tethering or shared billing which you will not go into minute detail in describing, or

3.  How you have this friend whose contract is “just like so restrictive” and you “cannot even believe” that he/she doesn’t realize how badly he/she is being ripped off.

E.  Conversations which are basically just you reading verbatim transcripts of text or Facebook or email exchanges in an outraged and/or self-righteous manner to someone sitting next to you who is not even listening

F.  Conversations about the relative merits and/or nature of different communication technologies (i.e., “I like, do NOT even email people, like she totally EMAILS me sometimes and I’m like WHAT ARE YOU DOING?  Just like SEND ME A TEXT!”) or also conversations about the allegedly world-historical nature of the fact that you “totally only use twitter” and your parents sometimes send you text messages where they like “spell everything all proper and sign their names,” etc.

G.  Conversations about whether or not you have service on your phone currently, whether or not you “always” or “never” get service right where you are presently, where you will be in a few moments, where you just were, or conversations comparing the relative service-availability between and among your friends (present or absent) regarding the foregoing,

H.  Pretty much any other conversation where your phone is a frequent subject or direct object.

II.  Some conversations about Television, including but not limited to:

A.  Conversations about Netflix, such as

1.  Conversations about how awesome it is that you can “literally” watch so many things just like, whenever you want to, whether on your laptop or your phone or tablet or even you “like totally don’t even do this anymore” on your television

2.  Conversations about how really if you think about it, the selection on Netflix is actually, “like pretty bad” like there are no good movies and it’s totally like the shows are like way behind, but like, you’re not going to pay for HBO-Go or whatever/the password you used to steal stopped working

3.  Conversations about how you used to sometimes get DVD’s in the mail from Netflix but like, you just don’t even do that anymore because you’re like “if it’s not on streaming, then like” you’re just not going to wait for it, but you have this one weird friend who like still does that,

B.  Conversations about Streaming in general, such as:

1.  How just awesome binge-watching is, because you can like watch whenever you want, wherever you want, or

2.  How you do not even watch a show until it’s all been aired, so you can just like stream the whole thing in like one weekend, or

3.  How you really like how some shows like House of Cards or Orange is the New Black are now being released all at once and that’s just like so much better if you think about it, why don’t the rest of them do that?

C.  Conversations about whether or not to get rid of cable like

1.  Whether you even watch all those channels,

2.  since you can totally just find most of the things on different sites or on netflix, what’s the point? or

3.  how it will totally save you at least like $45 each month

D.  Conversations about particular shows and your progress through them, as in

1.  When you discover that you and your interlocutor are on different episodes/seasons, so you totally don’t want to keep talking about it because you’ll like spoil something which is basically the worst

2.  When you discover that you and your interlocutor are, mirabile dictu, on exactly the SAME EPISODE OH MY GOD, and then move on to agree on “just how GOOD, like it is just SO GOOD” etc. without speaking a single substantive observation the whole time but still managing to make the conversation last 10 minutes or more

E.  Conversations specifically about either Breaking Bad or House of Cards, the entire extent of which is generally “dude, like, best show on television, I’m always saying, like, to anyone, like ‘have you seen Breaking Bad? because I literally can’t even talk to you if you haven’t.”

F.  Conversations about the episodic structure of television shows, where you note that, if you just like, watch a few episodes, you will not get it, but if you watch the whole thing, it will ALL MAKE SENSE, etc.

G.  Pretty much any other conversation about television where you basically reveal that you are incapable of rational thought for extended periods of time.

III.  Conversations about the CTA, such as

A.  Conversations where you loudly discuss where you are getting off the train/bus many times

B.  Conversations where you talk about how you should totally use the CTA more often, but like, you just don’t think to

C.  Conversations about this one really sketchy person you one time saw on the CTA

D.  Conversations about how much these trains/buses really suck and the employees are really rude.

E.  Conversations about why you don’t EVER sit down on train card or bus seats because like “just no, like, I can’t even…”

F.  Any other essentially racist/privileged conversation that’s basically just how you were raised in a mostly white suburb and are scared that there are black people near you.

IV.  Anything else that angers me at the time (many, many more things than above).

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5 Responses to Proposed Rules for Conversations on the CTA

  1. Nates says:

    aka “Old Man Brown rides the El.”

  2. Josh says:

    Get off my lawn.

  3. Sam Brown says:

    Serious question. Does anyone else only imagine a female or a group of females having these conversations? I don’t think this makes me, or the piece sexist, but the slang is kind of in the “valley girl” tradition. All that being said, I “literally” LedOL the whole way through the peace. I would add a requirement that everyone attempt to engage in interracial dialogue at least once a week.

  4. Josh says:

    Sam, that’s a fair criticism. You’re right that there’a valley-girl-ism built into it. I will say that for the most part, it’s not the “totally”s and “literally”s that bother me, it’s the content of the sentences they decorate. They’re generally thrown in because the sentences they’re adorning lack meaningful content, but the speaker thinks they are meaningful, however lacks words to express that content-they’re-pretty-sure exists. I will say, though, that I often see men and women discussing these issues. I may be more women though, or it may be that I overhear the more often. The thing they mostly have in common, however, it age: but quite a few of them are my age or older too.

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