As I sit here in one of my favourite coffee shops at a large shopping centre, I wonder some more about something that has been on my mind. Watching people living their lives around me encouraged me to open my laptop and start typing. I wonder is the art of “people watching” so endangered that it is vulnerable to extinction? What was once the craft you practiced in a public place, alone and with others, is threatened by something that easily fits in the palm of your hand.
“People watching” is both fun and educational. It is life unfolding around you in real time; your front row seat to the whole spectrum of human behaviour, fashion, emotions, social interaction, family dynamics, our successes and bloopers. The nemesis of ‘people watching’ is our obsession with gadgets and social media. Rarely do you see a café, bus stop, shop or pedestrian crossing where most people aren’t staring at their mobile screen.
Anywhere you have to line up, wait a bit, stand around unexpectedly or face the risk of having a face-to-face conversation with someone, most people will check their screen to see what has happened in the 2 minutes since they last checked.
Generally social media will be the first thing people jump to in any of these situations. There is some irony to this; real life is happening around us all the time in 3-D, while most of us spend this time following other people's lives on our multiple social media platforms.
It is now even more difficult to walk along a busy footpath; the only uncertainty used to be do I keep to the right or left. Now you need to be constantly on guard to avoid a head on collision with people so zoned out on their screens, it looks like a scene out of the "Walking Dead."
I am no saint as I am guilty of this sometimes, and I am definitely not the enemy of social media. I fully embrace social media as a great way to stay in touch with friends and family all around the world, sharing occasions, stories, photos and videos. It is a must have to stay connected in business.
I could even be called a hypocrite as I sit here typing my blog as people wander all around me, Christmas shopping in full swing. Fair enough too. However, I do make sure I regularly look up and sneak a peak so I don’t lose my skills in the art of people watching ☺