In Brief

London Underground: Are Tube Chat badges a good idea?

While most commuters are horrified by 'weirdo magnets', some see scheme as a remedy for loneliness

160930_tubechat.jpg

Badges bearing the question "Tube chat?" are being distributed on the London Underground – much to the horror of the capital's commuters.

The badges, which are similar to TfL's official Baby on Board ones for pregnant women, are attached to a piece of card that says: "Have a chat with your fellow travellers. Wear this badge to let others know you're interested. You'll benefit from a daily chat. Start using it today!"

However, the man claims to be the man behind the scheme says it has not been met with enthusiasm.

"I think I could have been handing out £5 notes and the same amount of people would have taken them," American Jonathan Dunne told BBC's Newsbeat. "I would say it's about an 80/20 split: 20 per cent think it's nice and about 80 per cent of people think it's terrible - worst idea ever."

Many commuters took to Twitter to express their disdain. "What is this monstrosity?! This is too much. Make it stop. Say no," wrote one, while another branded them "weirdo magnets".

A new badge appeared at Liverpool Street station this morning saying: "Don't even think about talking to me!"

"Spare me the 'Tube Chat' badges – my London commute isn't a big freshers' night out where I plan to make 'friends for life'," writes Anna Rhodes at The Independent.

Her journey to work is a "welcome moment of solitude", she says, and a badge would only take away the spontaneity of the situation when commuters do occasionally choose to converse.

Others, however, were open to the idea.

Alex Hudson at Metro says he personally dislikes talking to strangers, but a quarter of Londoners complain they feel lonely.

"This badge gives people choices without being stigmatised or without forcing their voice on people," he says. "Why are we so afraid of a badge that allows people in one of the loneliest cities in Europe to speak to each other without judgement, have a happier experience and develop a more positive mindset?"

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