Nobody Wants to Know Their Neighbors, Right?


I’ve always felt like part of the social contract of living in New York is that we all respect each other’s need to embrace anonymity. It’s liberating not to have to talk with people just because you happen to see them in the street. Is there anything worse than running into someone you vaguely know on the subway and being forced to talk to them until you reach your stop? I mean, other than having to talk to someone on the telephone, I can’t think of anything worse than that. I have been known to get off at a stop far from my intended destination just to avoid conversation. That’s part of the reason that I’m always late for things. Like, always late.

But anyway, it turns out that maybe not everyone feels exactly like me. Which, shocking, right? Gothamist reports that a small group of extra-friendly New Yorkers have started something called “Nametag Day” (June 1) which is centered (as per their website) around the idea that everyone in New York City should be wearing a name tag to make it easier to say hi to each other by name. While this feels like one of the harbingers of the apocalypse to me, apparently friendliness and easy communication is something that some people really advocate for. The website claims that the point of this manufactured holiday (which, to be fair, all holidays are manufactured one way or another) is this: “Each day brings opportunities to make new friends and share experiences. All too often, we can forget to notice the people around us. Nametag Day aims to break this barrier and strengthen the human element of the New York experience, adding a bit of spontaneity and silliness to people’s day.”

I mean, that sounds like absolute hell to me, “spontaneity and silliness” being totally against everything I value, namely routine and total seriousness, but I guess maybe some people will enjoy this day of friendliness? I guess the founders of this holiday are totally altruistic and good-hearted and selfless? Because what could possibly be the harm in a little frivolous holiday that doesn’t ask anything of people other than that they participate if they want? Oh, but wait. Something else is asked of people in order to make Name Tag Day happen. What is being asked? Money. Duh. The organizers of Name Tag Day are asking for donations in order to facilitate the purchasing of name tags, which will then be passed out to random New Yorkers. I guess that’s what they want the money for. It’s kind of unclear where all the funds will go, because the website says that it’s already raised over $3,000. Which, with name tags costing $4.29 for a pack of 100 at Staples, means that this group can buy over 60,000 name tags. But will they? Or will they just pocket the money from all the idiots who support Name Tag Day? It’s unclear at this time. I guess we’ll know more on June 1 when we see if anyone in New York is actually ridiculous enough to walk around with a name tag on, hoping to make friends.

Follow Kristin Iversen on twitter @kmiversen

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  1. Hi Kristin! I’m one of the co-organizers of Nametag Day and wanted to chime in. We respect your opinion, and understand that not everyone is going to love Nametag Day. That’s fine, though we hope that we’ll be able to change your mind by organizing a really fun day.

    We are a bit taken aback at your suggestion that we’re somehow pocketing the money. You’re right about the price of nametags–they’re not very expensive, and we’re actually working hard to negotiate the best possible deal below the retail price. But they’re not the only cost that goes into Nametag Day.. Our volunteers all need markers to write on the nametags and signs, so people know who in the world they are. And not to mention we have other costs related to pulling this event off: city park permits, web hosting, and minimal advertising.

    All the organizers have been working incredibly hard to make the event happen, and we’re not taking a penny from this. Neither are any of our dozens of volunteers. If we’ve somehow misbudgeted and have money left over, it’s going straight into the fund for Nametag Day 2014, when we hope to distribute even more nametags than this year.

    Hope you enjoy experiencing New York City on June 1, whether you’re wearing a nametag yourself or not!


  2. Hi Pete,
    Well, then, I sincerely hope that you enjoy June 1. It seems like an awful lot of money to me for name tags and markers, but, there’s always next year for run-over funds, as you say. I am, admittedly, a curmudgeon, but it seems like you’re really invested in this idea, so have a fun day!

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