Things I Learn From People Watching
“I like to prowl ordinary places and taste the people from a distance.” Charles Bukowski
People watching involves observing people to get a feel for the beauty and rhythm of the community around us. It’s about creativity and using the moments of watching to try to guess at another person’s story just from observation. People watching is a thing now. “Lets have a coffee and people watch’. It’s an activity like golf.
Observational learning occurs as a result of witnessing another person, but is performed later and cannot be explained as having been taught in any other way. People watching is very insightful and informative. It allows us to see humanity in all its diversity and similarity. Watching other cultures interact in an airport teaches you very quickly that we are more the same than different.
Some places are better for people watching than others. New York, Paris, Tokyo, Miami, Rio de Janeiro and London present ideal venues for people watching because people know they’re on display, and being seen. Any city where people dress up to show the world their fashion flair or sense of style is likely to be an ideal people watching place.
The first thing I notice about people is clothes. What is the identity they want to portray to the world on this day? Are they wearing designer logos, team clothing or travel souvenirs? Are they being vintage or homeless? Sometimes that is hard for me to decipher. People who are too perfect looking fascinate me – every hair in place perfectly made up and manicured. I wonder how much time they spent on that.
Tattoos are very interesting to me. What is so important that they want to see everyday in the shower? If they are covered in tattoos (which I find beautiful), I wonder what it is they are hiding.
People are art – the way they sit , fold their hands, walk, run, laugh, frown, chew, admonish their kids, fight with their boyfriends or adjust their clothes. I love observing how people form groups and how their body language reveals what they think or feel. It’s like deciphering a code. The way people carry themselves communicate their self-esteem and their emotional state.
The newest people watching activity is from homeland security. If you see something, say something. I’m not going into this because I do not know if I have any paranoid ignorant readers or not.
The most important thing is not to get caught. You don’t want to come across as a voyeur or psycho. Be conscious of other people’s need for privacy, space and respect people. Realize that you too are likely the subject of observation now and then, perhaps even as you’re people watching today.