People watching can be an enjoyable hobby that will help watchers to learn more about body language and social interactions. It differs from voyeurism in that it is not engaged in for sexual stimulation.
People watching must be done unobtrusively. That is, the people being watched should not be aware that they are being watched. If unaware of the observations, people will act more naturally and spontaneously.
Another reason for discreet observations is because, today, more than ever, people want to preserve their privacy. There are many assaults on the privacy of our population today. Examples of these assaults include:
- Unsolicited phone calls from sales representatives.
- Visits from door-to-door sales representatives.
- Anxiety about ID theft.
- Computer spam.
- Junk mail.
- Security cameras.
- Stoplight cameras and even stop sign cameras.
- Cell phone cameras that allow users to take pictures of other people and post these pictures on the internet.
- The IRS and NSA scandals.
- Black boxes in cars.
Below are some general guidelines for discrete people watching, including:
- Not following anyone as stalkers and child molesters often do.
- Being far enough away from those being watched so that the watching is not obvious.
- Watching people who are part of a large group in a public place so that it is not obvious that any one individual is being watched.
- Watching in short, discrete bursts.
- Doing something else such as eating or writing while watching.
- Not talking to a companion in a derisive manner about observations that are being made.
- Not watching in areas such as facilities that could be terrorism targets.
People watching has long been an inspiration to artists and writers and a hobby for many other people. In today’s era of shrinking privacy, however, people watchers must be more discrete than in the past.
Are you a people watcher? What are your guidelines for people watching? Please comment below.