SF Chron: Thanksgiving week draws 40 million Americans into theaters — the same number of weekly moviegoers as in 1920, when the U.S. population was 1/3 what it is today. Possible because in 1920, we had no media choices. Radio probably, but no TV. In addition to being almost the sole source of audio-visual entertainment, the movie theater was also where people went for newsreels – the only moving images people got of the world outside.
That aside, it’s a trip just to think of the U.S. — or of the world — with 1/3 of its current population. Imagine any crowded scene, and visually remove 2/3 of the people from it. All those non-existent persons. All that elbow room. You don’t have to go that far back to be weirded out by population trends, either. There were 4 billion people on earth when I was born in the mid-60s. Today, 6 billion+ — the world’s population has expanded by 50% since I’ve been alive. Visualize 8.5 billion, which will be the world population by the time Miles is my age. Try 100 years ahead, or 200.