The Creepiness Factor of Cellphone Cameras and The Internet

July 30, 2008

While I’ll be the first to admit that I’ve recently fell in love with Tumblr, and it’s ability to post cell phone pictures, there’s something creepy and slightly obnoxious going on over R.O.C.K. on the CTA.




Sadly, the poor taste only begins with what I’m assuming is a John Mellencamp song reference. 

Here’s the gist of what RotCTA does — “David Rockwell” takes covert cellphone pictures of people on Chicago Transit Authority trains and buses (they also accept submissions from others at and then posts them for the world to see.  David describes his blog thusly: 

a somewhat snarky, sometimes cranky, borderline stalker-y view of the world from my seat on the bus. No offense meant to anyone.. all of these stories are just made up. I really know nothing about you. And I care even less. I love watching the urbanites as they do their daily dance along the train tracks and bus routes…They make me happy. And sleepy.

Borderline stalker-y indeed.  It all seems harmless, but the site irks me for the following reasons:

  1. They are rarely that funny
  2. They are more likely to be mean-spirited and petty
  3. Their idea of a “hunk” is any dude dressed business-casual
  4. Their idea of a stylish or cute girl is a trixie dressed business-casual
  5. As you’d expect, photos are taken almost exclusively on the northside brown line and red line.
  6. Tons of creepy anonymous ass photos, and even some moose-knuckle.  Why?

If you’re on the CTA and you’re old, overweight, asleep, not cool looking, or a minority; prepare to be ridiculed anonymously.  Otherwise keep using public transportation in Lakeview and you might just become famous — if you wanted to or not.

Loose Lips: Sinking Ships Since 19-something

June 25, 2008

I realized just how loud Americans are roughly three hours into my first trip abroad. I remember sitting in the back of a bus in Oxford and being able to hear my friend Jordie, in the front of the bus, distinctly. Apparently, I wasn’t the only one listening in.

Always a bit of an amateur (albeit uninformed) cultural anthropologist, I marked it up to the U.S.’s natural surroundings. America loves space — big plains, giant everything, generously large including how much “social space” we require for comfortable conversation. Being loud, I thought, was a natural progression of conversing in venues that are naturally (culturally?) larger. More space = louder voices.

Anyway. If you’re loud enough, people will listen, ESPECIALLY in the U.K. (Maybe that’s why they’re so quiet … snoopy Brits.)

Reported this week by the Economist travel blog, in a recent survey Brits were the most likely to eavesdrop on other conversations when abroad. Stats from the Regus survey:

• 67% of Brits travelling with work have eavesdropped on someone else’s business conversation, versus 59% of American professionals
• 35% of travelling British professionals have caught sight of sensitive company documents, along with 34% of Americans
• 13% of British professionals have been able to use the information they have overheard in public versus 19% of American mobile professionals

I have to admit eavesdropping is fun, and our UK counterparts are definitely into it. Kind of makes me wish Filter was still around — formerly the best eavesdropping in Chicago.