Everyone knows the golden rule of travelling on the London Underground: no eye contact. And under no circumstances (save for life-threatening emergencies) are you to interact with your fellow passengers. It's basically the law. Well, someone has done the unthinkable and is trying to flout British convention by encouraging small talk on public transport. New badges have been handed out on the tube with the words "Tube chat?" printed on them, created in the same style as the "Baby on board" badges we're used to seeing. An accompanying information card about the initiative reads: "Have a chat with your fellow customers. Wear this badge to let others know you’re interested. You’ll benefit from a daily chat. Start using it today!"
Although the badges include the official London Underground logo, Transport for London denied it is behind the scheme.
It is thought they were created by filmmaker Leo Leigh and artist Toby Leigh, who tweeted on Tuesday that they were going to be distributing them outside Old Street station the following day, reported The Telegraph. Londoners have reacted to the badges with predictable disdain and a healthy pinch of British humour.
Although there are a few sensitive, sociable souls out there who like the idea.
And to be fair, they could actually be quite useful.
Update: The man behind the badges has been identified as American Jonathan Dunne, who created them after noticing that people in London "are very uncomfortable... with very basic social interactions," BBC Newsbeat reported. He's disappointed by the reaction to his badges: "All I wanted to do was have a little bit of fun," he told the BBC. "I thought it would be a bit more fun. This wasn't a massively thought-out plan."