You know those dudes on the subway, the ones who spread their knees in order to take up every possible inch of space, even through there’s a perfectly good seat next to them that you could settle into? It’s not just social media that’s going to shame them anymore. The MTA announced that, in January, it’s going to launch a PSA campaign targetting “man spreaders” a.k.a. “seat hogs” a.k.a “bros who are making your life worse for no reason.” So the subway is about to be four percent more expensive and maybe four percent less horrible. At least that’s the plan.
There aren’t specifics on what these signs will actually look like, but, as MTA spokesman Kevin Ortiz told Am New York, it will be “something new, something fresh” to replace the old slogan, “courtesy is contagious.” Because, apparently, no it’s not. What’s super contagious is terrible behavior! And germs. Hey cool.
The PSAs are actually a milder response that one proposed by MTA board member Charles Moerdler, who originally wanted to ban backpacks entirely from the system, thanks to a certain jerkish propensity to use them to take up space. “I believe that you ought to get them off the back and onto the floor so they don’t hit people when you make an inadvertent movement or the train comes to a sudden stop,” Moerdler said. “What we need to do is focus on it so that people will understand that it’s the right thing to do.When you get to the hard-core violators and courtesy doesn’t work, then you have to take enforcement action.”
True, but, like so much else in life, space-hogging is one of those invisible trappings of privilege. Bustle’s Gabrielle Moss did a social experiment in which she pruposefully hogged seats on the train for a weekend:
A funny thing happened: I registered the fear and displeasure of strangers less and less. I went from faking being absorbed in my book as I maintained a nervously wide stance, to actually being absorbed in my book, forgetting that my legs were splayed out like I was holding a beach ball between my knees. In other words, I became unconscious of my own manufactured privilege. As people viewed my leg spread as an act of aggression and possible instability and steered clear of me, I slowly began to stop even noticing them.
Unclear if the signs will really help, taking that into account. But hey, you can always imagine that those guys are just saving room for cats.