Don't Judge the Boston T People

MBTA riders are a fickle bunch. Most are just trying to keep it together from A to B, girding their loins as they loiter underground together in a confined space with the unwashed masses. Most riders just want to be left the hell alone, and if not, would relish the opportunity to put your head on a pike.

This is a lesson that a secretive woman named Erika is learning the hard way.

A week ago, Erika decided it would be fun to start taking pictures of people on the T and slap them on a Facebook page called Boston T People. Soon, other riders got in on the act, emailing Erika shots to post on her site.  It’s hardly surprising that not everyone thought the pictures—many of people during their craziest or most depressing moments—were funny. Let’s be clear. We’re talking about moments like these:

boston t peoplePhotos via Boston T People on Facebook

It wasn’t long until Erika starting receiving threats to her and her family from a slim percentage of respondents. While there is no way to condone harming or threatening to harm this woman—who thought it would be hilarious to exploit people by posting pictures of obese people, old people, sleeping people, and people bursting out of humorously age-inappropriate outfits—it’s ironic and little bit annoying that Erika wants to keep her identity a secret. In a recent interview with WBZ, she hid her identity by asking the television news station not to reveal her last name or broadcast her face due to safety concerns.

MBTA officials say the photos and website are legal but hope she treats people with respect. Doesn’t it seem a little hypocritical to post photos of people, many at embarrassing moments, without letting everyone see what you, the antagonist, look like? I’m not saying she needs to fork over her social security number and ATM pin, but shouldn’t we at least get to see her? Look her dead in the digital eye and judge her, too? The same way she posts photos of strangers for the whole world to judge?

On her site, Erika says, “Don’t take this too seriously. If you do not like this, then don’t look. Sorry if you are on here.”

The apology is a nice touch. Erika has said she is willing to take down the photo of anyone who contacts her to complain, but has plans to move her Facebook page to its own independent website, where she will continue posting photos of unwilling, disgruntled, and partially-naked MBTA passengers.

I think a little quid pro quo is needed. If anyone has a picture of Erika, please send it in, preferably one where she’s passed out or wearing an ill-fitting outfit, and of course, taken without her permission or knowledge.

At the very least, it’d be nice to know what she looked like just so I can see her coming and make sure that my halter-top and Daisy Dukes are in order.

  • rebs

    This is essentially the same thing as People of Walmart. Has Mr. Vogel stumbled on that site and thought it was funny and entertaining? Yeah, I thought so.

  • John H.

    I find pages like Boston T People and People of Walmart extremely disheartening.

    This is not someone who’s putting themselves out there at a public protest with a hilariously misspelled sign. A lot of these people are just average men and women trying to get from Point A to Point B in their lives.

    Many times their only offense is being elderly or overweight or mentally impaired. Or they dress in a style that fits a stereotype of an economic class, ethnic group, or subculture that the photographer finds “weird” “ghetto” or “trashy.”

    Should we really be holding these people up for mockery? If we actually stop to think about what we’re doing, is it all that funny?

  • Nellie D

    Guess Ericka’s parents are guilty of bad parenting as they didn’t teach her to not make fun of people. If making a mockery of others is how you get your kicks Erica, you should not have any children. You are a sad sad person.

  • Kat

    If these people had any sense of decorum, websites like this wouldn’t exist. It might not be nice to mock them, but they make it really easy. I think part of the point is that it’s incredible that such a vast number of people on the T look like this. I know I’m blown away by it.