Photo of Elderly Woman Kept Standing on Train Sparks Huge Internet Dispute

By Colin Fredericson

A photo of an elderly woman struggling to stand on a train while young passengers sit listening on headphones, as if unaware of her presence, has divided Australian commuters.

A man from Sydney posted the photo to a Facebook group centered on the Bondi community. He said he didn’t take the photo himself and was not sure where it was taken.

“Not sure if this is Sydney, but I’ve seen it before in Sydney all the time,” he wrote, according to 7 News.

Some commenters on the article think that there is no question that the seated passengers are wrong.

“Divides opinion? Really? I only see it this way – an elderly lady standing up – and able bodied youngsters seated! DUHHHH??!! If that was your Grandma or Mother – I wonder how’d you feel!!!” wrote Rod Acosta Dingle-Komitiyage on the 7 News Facebook post.

Posted by 7NEWS Australia on Sunday, February 10, 2019

“In my day we were taught manners by our parents and to this day therefore, I would stand up for anyone that old, even though I am now closer to 60 than 50 myself. All too often I have seen youngsters oblivious to some older person standing as they look lovingly at some device or listen to music on headphones,” commented Brent Selwyn.

But there were others who think that one photograph could omit a lot of information, and is no basis to judge.

“It is unfair to judge on a photo without context. Maybe she was seated and got up because it’s close to her stop. Maybe she was offered, but declined,” commented Joanie Badenhorst-Awasthi.

“We don’t know the true story. Yes they should have offered the woman a seat. But this woman may have been offered seat but she chose to stand as it’s less painful for her. She may have been about to get off the bus. We can’t judge as we don’t know the events that happened before this photo was taken,” commented Sarah Ray.

Then there were others who said they have experienced the same thing on trains in Australia.

“I take the train everyday. Very rarely, anyone offers me a seat although I am a senior. Some passengers even offered seats to their bags despite the train being fairly full,” commented Debbie Lim.

The photo was also shared on the Aussie Aussie Aussie Aussie Facebook page, and it was shared almost 30,000 times.

“It doesn’t surprise me . I once had to ask people if someone would give up their seat for an elderly lady who was standing and they looked at each other hoping the other would get up . The 2 younger ones remained seated and an older man gave up his seat . People have become so disrespectful and selfish . I myself am travelling to work on the trains wearing a moon boot in considerable pain with a fractured foot . People will not offer you a seat. They look at you and quickly go back to their phone , doing their makeup or shut their eyes for a sleep . I have even had people push past me when getting on the train and they take the last seat. Unbelievable !!” wrote a commenter on the Aussie Aussie Aussie Aussie Facebook page.

A Daily Mail reader commented that the photo might be part of a hoax to enrage people, and analyzed the photo closely, looking at necessary missing information, pointing out what the framing of the photo does to its meaning.

“The closer you look at the photo, the more I feel the photographer is trying to dupe people in reading something else into it. We don’t see how many seats are vacant (or not) on the left hand side of the train or behind her. It looks like the train is most probably stationary at the platform. Based on what looks like a platform with a large gap between the tracks. Lastly the way the lady is gripping the rail doesn’t look like a natural hold more like using it to steady herself and push of towards a seat. Until I see a moving set of imagery or a panoramic view I certainly won’t be taking part in millennial bashing. It wouldn’t be the first time someone posted something to dupe others,” wrote Bored commuter, from Sydney, Australia, below the article.

Sydney Trains sent a statement reacting to the photo, to Daily Mail Australia.

“Sydney Trains encourages all of its passengers to observe appropriate transport etiquette including respecting elderly, disabled or pregnant customers by offering up their seats.”