Some Notes On People-Watching (Part 2)

Welcome Back Wonderful Listeners!

Picking up from where I left off last time, there’s more to people-watching when time is no longer a concern. Once that short window of mere seconds is obliterate and time stops existing, another realm is entered in the people-watching world.

This is usually the point of the sport where you aren’t sporting your ability but rather become a passive viewer of sorts. You usually stick with one person or group of people, for an extended period of time.

Take for example a day at the park. You’re lounging on the grass and you see another individual who has caught your attention from afar. You are at a safe distance where you are quite aware that your presence isn’t at the forefront, and so you are able to really take in that person.

You are able to drop your guard if you will. You become less concerned with being caught gazing at people because you’re only concerned about the person you’re watching staring back. Nonetheless, this is a more intimate experience. I do suppose, that in one way it seems voyeuristic, but on the contrary, it is not (that is, unless that was your aim from the start.)

So I imagine someone, say a female, and I’m watching her. I’m studying her very closely. I take in her appearance. I could do this in mere seconds but because I am not rushed, I take my time. I go into the little intricacies of her physical composition. Who knows? Perhaps 10 minutes has passed. Perhaps half an hour. Regardless, I’m just focused on studying her.

Now, because she’s yet to move, I’m able to switch gears and study her habits, patterns, and actions. How does she move? What does she seem to be interested in? What’s occupying her time in the current moment? My mind is left to hypothesize about how her movements and actions could reveal parts of her persona.

This takes much longer to do. Surely, half an hour has passed. I’ve needed to watch her for quite some time to make such rational judgments. Then another 30 minutes passes. Has she gotten up to go do something else? Is she reclining in the shade of a tree? Perhaps she’s playing with her pet now.

It is at this point, that I’ve gather enough information to begin trying to piece together who she is before ever having any real information about her persona. I make judgments (although empty) about who she is, what kind of food she likes, what type of friends she has, what her past was like, what her aspirations are…

I am able to do this without her needing to be there. Still, I continue to gaze at her because while all of this judgment is happening in my mind, I’m still taking in information about her. Perhaps a sudden change in pattern will change my perception of her. If she goes to talk with a stranger, what does that say about her social skills? Is she doing something out of gain? Who is to say?

In this scenario, I am at a safe distance. I am not interactive with the subject. I am an observer, a scientist if you will whose experiment only takes place in the mind with no real conclusions reached in the end. It is merely a game, a sport, a way to stifle boredom; this, of course, could apply to any subject, not just male or female. Animals, and other creatures too can assume this role, although, at that point it is no longer people-watching now is it?

Heh. But let’s use a different example, shall we? Take for instance an airport. I am going to catch a flight but I am early. My plane doesn’t take off for another 40 minutes. While sitting down near my terminal, I see a gentlemen sitting in my designated terminal. We are closer in proximity, maybe eight feet away.

I conduct the same attitudes as I did in the park. I study the appearance, taking my time (although not too long consider we have a flight to catch.) Finally, I begin to take note of his actions. Before too long, I’ve made judgments about who he is. And now, let’s introduce environment.

He may be well-groomed, in a business suit. Will he be going away on a business trip or does he wish to display his economic status? He may be casually dressed. Is he going home, or to go visit family? Is he just waiting for someone to meet up with him? He may be on his phone. What is he doing? Is he playing games, answering messages, or checking social media? Perhaps, I see him with headphones in. Is it music or an audiobook? Maybe it’s a sermon? Is her religious or secular?

My questions continue on and on. How much luggage does he have? Did he pack essentials or did he go overboard? Is he rushed or taking his time? Maybe he’s not slightly worried about his journey in the least. And perhaps for a split second, he notices me and so I turn away and direct my attention to my phone or something. But, I will return the glance later, once I feel some immediate danger has dissipated. Maybe I’ll look him directly in the eye because I’m fearless.

Who knows? But what can be said, is that I was in my own world of imagining who these people are—the girl in the park, the man at the airport. I was a spectator and a player all at once. Interesting how this sport works, isn’t it? It’s a game which you play all by yourself and there is no declared winner; there is only the process of playing.

Of course, people-watching can become interesting if you do make it more of a traditional sport by contesting your observational skills against someone you know. Maybe you both will watch the same individual and see what the other comes up with about who they are. Maybe you chose different subjects and compare noted traits to see who had the most. Who knows?

For this sport, what the senses and mind can do as one, is key. How do you judge reality, not just people, around you based on sensory input and critical thinking? Heh. But that’s the beauty of this sport. It asks those questions without the player realizing it. And in the process, a lot is revealed to the players themselves about themselves; the subjects watched are just springboards to reach this conclusion.

A game of empty judgments and observations, or a game of self-revelation? Who knows? All that is certain is that people, whether you realize it or not, are watching…


What do you make of the idea of people-watching? Is it healthy or is it detrimental? Can good come from it? Does it reveal more about the subject or the player? Leave all your thoughts below!

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