Tube Chat Badges Have Opposite Effect On London Underground Commuters

'If I wanted to talk to strangers, I'd move back to Yorkshire.'

London Underground commuters have proven that the ‘grumpy’ stereotype is still well and truly alive, by taking issue with a new incentive that encourages strangers to talk to each other.

‘Tube chat’ badges were released on Wednesday, inviting commuters to don them on their jackets and talk to others doing the same on public transport.

We have ways of making you talk. #tube_chat

— Jack Kirby (@jackkirby) September 29, 2016

”Wear the badge to let others know you’re interested. You’ll benefit from a daily chat,” a promotion read.

The badges use Transport for London branding, but a spokesperson from the authority confirmed to The Huffington Post UK: “This is not anything that we’ve been involved in.” They appear to be the work of filmmaker Leo Leigh and and artist Toby Leigh, the two sons of Mike Leigh and Alison Steadman.

Typically, though, London commuters were having none of the friendly approach, and took to social media to bemoan having to engage any more with those they stand shoulder-to-shoulder with in a packed metal can.

This makes me very uncomfortable

— James Cook (@JamesLiamCook) September 29, 2016

Got my #nope_card ready, in case I get approached by anyone with a #tube_chat badge

— TC (@TC_Cornesto) September 29, 2016

I feel like civilisation is ending. #tube_chat

— jack monroe (@MxJackMonroe) September 28, 2016

If #tube_chat had been in Sadiq's manifesto, Goldsmith would be mayor right now.

— Michael Docherty (@maybeavalon) September 29, 2016

If I wanted to talk to strangers on my commute, I'd move back to Yorkshire #tube_chat

— Dan Dalton (@wordsbydan) September 29, 2016

Some even had their own inventive suggestions for other badges TfL could release to counter chat invitations.

#TubeChat? Come on. This is London. Let's be realistic.

— Michael Moran (@TheMichaelMoran) September 29, 2016

I think these badges could really catch on. #tube_chat

— DocHackenbush (@DocHackenbush) September 29, 2016

A social media user even discovered that Googling ‘Tube Chat’ threw up some interesting search results.

.@ScottishLit Just googled it. Turns out it's a pornography thing, so I guess that was the safest option for them!

— Paddy Johnston (@paddyjohnston) September 29, 2016

While another claimed he had met the creator of ‘Tube Chat’, claiming that when he heard of it in 2004, the initiative was just an art project. “Today, it has triggered an uprising,” he said.

2004-ish, I met the woman who invented the "Tube Chat" badge. It was just an art project of hers then. Today, it has triggered an uprising.

— Damian Counsell (@DamCou) September 29, 2016

But the badges may do some good, as one traveller revealed. Ryan Love said there were “many times” he would have broken into tears on the Underground had it not been for the kind support and conversation of strangers.

I know it's easy to mock those 'Tube Chat' badges, and yes you do sometimes have to wonder who comes up with this stuff, but...

— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) September 29, 2016

There were many times I sat on the tube and probably would have broken down in tears if someone had asked me if I was OK. There were also...

— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) September 29, 2016

...plenty of times where I would have loved to have had the confidence to check if someone else was OK or wanted to talk to someone.

— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) September 29, 2016

Sure, I probably wouldn't wear a badge, but I don't think encouraging people to feel comfortable to say hello is a really terrible thing.

— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) September 29, 2016

A badge might sound silly to you, but even if just a few people wear one and maybe feel good after having that chat, it's a positive thing.

— Ryan Love (@RyanJL) September 29, 2016

But on the down side, the badges might also encourage men who enjoy trying to talk to women wearing headphones.



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