For many travelling to and from London for work, their daily commute is often the only time of day when they can sit in silence, avoid social interaction and steal a few precious moments of “me time”.
However, one man is determined to cheer Londoners up by encouraging them to exchange smiles with one another while travelling on the underground.
While the intent of the “Smiles on the Lines” campaign may be sincere, a number of people have expressed their lack of appreciation over being told that they should be “happy” while on the tube.
“Oh, marvellous. Another man who thinks he’s entitled to demand people smile for him. How about ‘no’?” one person wrote on Twitter.
Felicity Morse, author of self-help book Give a F**k, explained her opposition to the movement, writing: “The reason #smilesonthelines - a plan to get commuters to smile on public transport - is so annoying is because there are very few places where we feel allowed to not be bright and breezy - to just feel exactly how we feel and have that be enough - to not put on a mask.”
One person poked fun at the way in which women are frequently told to smile by strangers, tweeting: “I for one SUPPORT the campaign to get male Londoners to smile on the tube, because women like to see positive men.
“Cheer up love, it might never happen!” they continued.
The “Smiles on the Lines” campaign was created by Glen Freeman, a self-described former “angry commuter”.
He explains on the movement’s Facebook page that he wants to bring “happiness, connection and openness to our commute.”
“Right now smiles are a rarity for commuters,” he writes. “For the lucky commuters the first smile they see in the morning may be at the coffee shop or their office.
“Others won’t experience a smile in their entire day, so they continue to experience lack of connection, frustration and even anger on their commute and many stare at their phone for fear of making eye contact.”
Freeman is currently promoting a “Smiles on the Lines” event on September 25, during which he’s asking London commuters to smile at one another on the day.
Despite the degree of mockery that the campaign has received on social media, some have shown their support for the idea.
“A guy trying to do something nice and positive, yet reading these comments people still have something negative to say, says a lot about the world we live in,” one person wrote.
In 2016, a campaign attempted to encourage London commuters to converse with one another on the underground by having them wear badges that said "Tube Chat?".
The badges received a mixed response on social media, with one person describing them as a “monstrosity”.
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