New York Subways Are No Longer Safe

by Chiara Atik · January 12, 2010

Remember the good ol'days when the only thing to fear on a subway was a mugging or terrorism? No longer. See that suspicious-looking person with their cellphone out? They are probably trying to surreptitiously trying to take a picture of you so they can go home and post it on the internet.

In the recent weeks, not one, but THREE websites devoted to making fun of people who ride the subway have garnered attention and popularity. collects pictures of people eating on the subway, which is yes, gross, but perhaps not deserving of an entire website? Subway Douchery collects pictures of people doing annoying things like holding on to their grandpa's hands while going up the stairs (and yes, thusly taking up more room than necessary), or lugging huge things on the subway, which basically everyone who has made a trip to Bed Bath and Beyond on 17th and 6th has done.

The most recent, and in some ways, most vicoious, is the twitter account @n_train_gossip which is frightening in just how indiscriminate it is: anyone who happens to ride the N train is fodder. Some of the tweets are funny ("Ladies, contrary to popular belief, this is NOT your bathroom." reads the caption on a photo of a woman applying makeup), but photos of homeless men asleep in the cars accompanied only with the caption "Bum" show considerably less wit and even less empathy. (It's JANUARY, it's COLD, you're really going to take a picture of this homeless man and put it on the internet for no reason? Come on.)

Suffering the indignities of the subway is one of the ties that bind us as New Yorkers; most of us have had to put up with the jostling, panhandling, and occasional odiferous subway car. But these things are quickly forgotten and shrugged off once we emerge from the tunnels, none worse for the wear. This new trend of documenting and photographing fellow subway riders gives things a bit of a nasty edge: instead of being a united front against the horror that can be the MTA, we're now adversaries, looking to indict anyone who annoys us on our morning commute.

Who among us has really never committed a subway misdemeanor? Never been a little rowdy on a ride home with friends after partying? Gotten a little too close with a significant other? Had a snack, listened to music too loudly, or maybe convinced yourself that the woman standing in front of where your sitting isn't pregnant, she's just fat?

The subway pretty much sucks for everyone. But let's not make it worse by turning against each other.