The internet is a vast collection of shaming and outrage. Sometimes it’s warranted, but in this case it definitely was not.
According to Singaporean news site Mothership, commuter Celine Chia was on a crowded train when she noticed what appeared to be an able-bodied person sitting in the reserved seating intended for people with disabilities, illnesses, or other hardships. There was a mom wearing a baby standing nearby and Chia thought she might like the seat, so she decided to confront the man and accuse him of taking a seat he didn’t need.
She told him off in the middle of the train and he rebuffed her accusations. She then snapped a photo of him and posted it on social media along with their entire exchange in an effort to publicly shame him:
Chia deleted her Facebook post once it began receiving media attention, but as we all know, the internet is forever. Eventually, it got enough attention that the man from the train responded. He took to his own Facebook and explained that he has a heart condition and has been feeling exhausted and sick lately, and that’s why he chose not to give up his seat for the woman with the baby.
No word on whether Chia ever saw the man’s response, but this entire situation is rage-inducing. It takes a special kind of jackass to walk up to someone and demand that they explain their health history or any possible disabilities to a train full of people, but to then go on Facebook and post the man’s photo, publicly humiliate him, and fat shame him? Chia may have thought she was doing a good deed, but that is the exact opposite of what happened.
More importantly, no one is required to give up their seat to a parent with a child on public transportation. It may be nice to offer a seat if you’re able, but having a child is not a disability or an illness. There’s no need to go around policing seats for moms with baby carriers. In fact, the woman with the baby carrier even commented on Chia’s post and said someone else gave up their seat, but she chose to stand as her son was kicking the people beside them.
There’s a fine line between calling out a wrong and being a bullying jackass and, in this instance, things simply went too far. Maybe the guy could’ve handled standing, or maybe he just didn’t want to recount his health history to an irate stranger — we’ll never know for sure. Either way, it’s time we stop acting like kids are the ultimate burden and everyone in every public space should cater to parents’ needs.
Someone needlessly hogging a seat might be rude, but making gross assumptions about someone’s health and publicly shaming them is pretty damn rude too.