Do you keep to yourself on transit? Or would you rather be interacting with others?
I thought we’d tackle the subject today, as Pete McMartin has a Vancouver Sun article this morning called “Alone in a crowd on transit.”  From the article, Pete seems to say that we withdraw on transit, and it’s something he laments. A quote from the end:
No one talks. The train jounces along, screeching on the long curves. We settle glumly into the rhythm of the train — the deceleration before stations, the disembarking passengers shouldering through the crush, the closing doors and the rising hum of the quickening train. Langara. City Hall. Yaletown. Downtown. The train gradually empties out. It slows to a stop at the Waterfront station, and a man, already laden with a vague weight, allows the cabin to clear before he steps out on to the platform. He has not uttered a word the entire 20-minute trip, and has never looked into the face of another passenger or said a kind word to anyone, even though he has thought it would be nice if he or someone did. As he watches the last of the passengers hurry out of the station toward the day’s work, he thinks:
When did we become so afraid of one another?
But I’ve also seen quite a response to the article around the web, saying just the opposite. Here’s a few comments from a much longer Reddit discussion :
Yes! There’s nothing better then a nice quiet bus ride in the morning the slowly wake up. The AM is me time. (link )
Completely agreed. Nothing wrong with a bit of human noise, but also nothing wrong with people just being themselves.
Hell, I’d rather a chill time on the train than having to deal with people trying to chat me up while I’m reading with headphones in. (link )
Fun poll time!
So here is where I turn it over to you! Take our fun poll, and tell us what you think in the comments. I’ll report back with the results on Friday!
Do you prefer a quiet ride on transit, or do you want more interaction?
Total Voters: 170
And before I set you loose for discussion, I should also highlight that retreating into privacy on transit isn’t a Vancouver phenomenon, or something that happens in only this time period. For example, here’s a quote from a Slate article about subway psychology :
By 1971, Erving Goffman, in his book Relations in Public, was noting that a ritual of what he called “civil inattention” had taken hold on the subway as in other spheres of city life: We acknowledge another person’s presence, but not enough to make them “a target of special curiosity or design.” Or, as the authors of the essay “Subway Behavior,” (in the book People and Places: Sociology of the Familiar) put it, “subway behavior is regulated by certain societal rules and regulations that serve to protect personal rights and to sustain proper social distance between unacquainted people who are temporarily placed together in unfocused and focused interaction.”
OK! Have at it!