June 14th, 2019. Remember today, for Chat Day shall surely live in infamy forever.
It’s the classic ‘rock and a hard place’ scenario – insistently, the powers that be try to get us to talk to one another on public transport. Like a stubborn child, we firmly close our mouths, turn away, and focus on literally anything else. The latest front on the war on silence arrives today, for a whole host of public transport operators are partaking in Chat Day, during which a whole host of tricks and treats will be used to entice you to form a human connection to strangers. How obscene!
After the whole ‘Tube Chat?’ badge debacle, I thought this idea had died once and for all, but apparently not. There is, of course, nothing but good intentions behind the initiative; the aim is to help prevent people from feeling isolated or polarised, by encouraging us to reach out and connect with strangers. A noble cause, truly – but Twitter, naturally, was having absolutely none of it:
Conversation starter card for #chatday on public transport…
| Why do extraverts think |
| the quietness of an |
| introvert is the sickness |
| that needs curing, not |
| their own gum-flapping? |
— Steve Cook (@Polypompholyx) 14 June 2019
— Adam Libonatti-Roche (@baconchin) 13 June 2019
(At least he said please.)
Seriously, which utter prize winning pillock decided, “you know what we need on public transport? #chatday“. Stay away from me.
— Daniel Gibson (@dlsgibson) 13 June 2019
— Sam (@perfectlysj) 13 June 2019
At this early stage of Chat Day, however, the idea doesn’t quite seem to be catching on.
Delighted to say that no one on the 77 bus seems to be taking part in #chatday
— donbrowndotlondon (@donbrownlondon) 14 June 2019
Oh, and if you think “well great, I’m not in London so I’m spared”, you would be wrong. Chat Day is everywhere, on every imaginable form of public transport – and some networks, like Arriva’s buses, are even handing out conversation starter cards. Which seems like an absurdly formal way to get Chat Day off the ground, but whatever floats your boat I guess. Perhaps Shayda had the most nuanced take on the whole kerfuffle:
I know talking to strangers to good for your health, & normally I’d be up for it if I’m at a shop or a bar or whatever, but not on my way to & from work when I’m waking up or exhausted. Knowing my luck I’ll accidentally end up in one of these too https://t.co/MY2tv8W7kt #chatday
— Shayda Kashef (@shayda_k) 13 June 2019
We’re all for meaningful interactions with potential new friends/lovers/arch-nemeses, but if you’re capable of sparkly, witty repartee at 8am, then you’re a better person than I. Plus, have you ever tried making conversation over the screeching sounds of the Victoria line? I’m sure Chat Day is a well-established, even welcomed, occasion in some utopian future – but as we can all agree, the Underground is certainly not Utopia…
Also published on Medium.