One time I went downtown with a friend and we needed to ride the subway to get to our destination. I wanted to make sure we went the right direction so I approached a map in the waiting area of the station. There was a girl nearby and I saw from my peripheral vision that her phone was pointed at me. I ignored it thinking she was probably taking a picture of something else.
My friend and I were taking the same subway train as this stranger, walking behind her when the doors opened. That’s when I noticed her camera on and she was taking pictures of the person in front of her. Turns out I was right about my speculation earlier. I told my friend right away that I wanted to ask the stranger what she was doing. My friend told me to leave it alone but the girl was walking farther away and I didn’t want to miss my chance only to regret it later.
The Subway Incident
I caught up to the girl and tapped her on the shoulder. “Excuse me.”
She immediately said, “I wasn’t taking pictures of you, you can even check my phone.”
“I just wanted to know if you were doing an experiment or something,” I responded.
She said, “No.”
I’m a nice person and didn’t want it to seem like I was going to harass her, nor risk escalating the interaction. So I accepted her answer, said, “Oh, okay” and went back to my friend.
It was a very odd situation I parted from while taking the subway, but I’m glad I didn’t just let her go. We live in a time where you can technically film in public and be filmed, unintentionally ending up in the background of strangers’ videos or photos without it being a major legal issue. While many may not care, isn’t it scary to think a photo or footage of you could be out there without you knowing since it wasn’t taken with your permission? There are a lot of sketchy people these days.
I’d like to imagine that this subway stranger I encountered actually was conducting an experiment for school, and just couldn’t admit it to me as part of the experiment, and observing people’s reactions. I don’t regret confronting her even though I had no idea how the conversation was going to go and I’m thankful it didn’t go that badly. I didn’t get the answer I was looking for but at least I have some peace of mind. If you’re ever in a similar strange incident, go with your instinct as long as you feel safe enough. Thanks for reading.