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Online Trends

Published October 3rd 2016

Social Data Maps London’s Incredibly Anti-Social Reaction to #Tube_Chat

Brandwatch React analyzes the social data surrounding the controversial Tube Chat badges that could be coming to a tube station near you.

Gandhi said we should be the change we want to see in the world.

Unfortunately, Londoners don’t seem to be a fan of the man who tried to change social etiquette on tube trains last week.

The London underground is famous for being an ingeniously designed and (sometimes) convenient way of navigating the city quickly through a complex network of tube lines. It’s also famous for being a cramped, sweaty crush of commuters, students, tourists and miscellaneous characters who all adhere to one literally unspoken rule. You don’t talk to your co-passengers.

In fact, even eye contact is discouraged.


One man tried to change it all

Thursday 29th September saw uproar in the underground. Jonathan Dunne, originally from Colorado, had been handing out “Tube Chat” badges to tube passengers in an attempt to encourage conversations between them. Wearing the badge invites other passengers to engage in a chat during the journey.

It didn’t take long for word to spread on social and we’ve found thousands of people discussing them since the hashtag took off.

tube-chat

While the chat was buzzing on social, many were wary of the badges and weren’t so keen on striking up a conversation in real life.

An anti-social backlash

Conversation surrounding the badges wasn’t exactly positive.

tube-chat-2

A number of news outlets gleefully noted that Londoners were reacting with “horror”, curating unhappy tweets from commuters who weren’t happy with the concept.

Mashable had the top tweeted story with The Guardian and Evening Standard close behind with similar titles.

screen-shot-2016-10-03-at-13-28-34

When we zoomed in on London geo-tagged tweets (which represent a very small sample of the overall Twitter population since not everyone has geo-tagging enabled on their account), we found the people of London were very skeptical.

tube-chat-3

Anti #Tube_Chat campaign

Not only were there people “horrified” with the concept, some took to Photoshop to express their hatred.

Counter-campaigns sprung up with badges stating “shut up” and “don’t even think about talking to me”.

Some of the reactions were less creative but still pretty funny.

The backlash has been fairly harsh on Mr Dunne who has been let down by other efforts to get people involved with seemingly fun activities.

Dunne penned this article for TIME in which he described his reasons for the badges and some of the more negative reactions.

I thought I’d done a nice gesture, but there has been a bit of a backlash. People were handing out buttons in Liverpool Street station this morning that said ‘Shut Up’. I can’t really understand why they’re so bothered about it. One guy has even posted a video on YouTube about how he’s going to punch me in the face. It doesn’t worry me though.

Are the badges doomed?

Dunne has ordered more badges and says he’s had some positive reaction to his efforts. He’s even been contacted by the London Transport Museum who want a badge for their collection.

While lots of people think the creator’s optimism was based on a misunderstanding of London etiquette, others pointed out that it’s an incredibly British way to tackle the problem – encouraging social interaction via badges.

However, the no-speaking-on-public-transport rule doesn’t extend across the whole of the UK. In northern England, where conversation seems to come more naturally to strangers, the badges aren’t needed. Despite this, “nattering northerner” Angela Epstein writes “conversation, like great sex or the ability to pick out a tune on the ukelele, is something you simply cannot force.” She’s not a fan of badges that make conversation a chore.

While Dunne says that he’s not forcing anyone to chat, people still aren’t keen on the seemingly unnatural circumstances #Tube_Chat badges impose on commuters.

Want more juicy data stories? Follow @BW_React for more

 

 

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