You Are Not Crazy (Or Alone) If You Like People Watching!

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People watching is a common activity, but how do you know when to draw the line between a harmless hobby and a perverted pastime?

If you say that you haven’t tried looking out of the car window during a traffic jam to watch the people on the street, then you are probably lying. We love people watching others. We are all guilty of that.

I guess we can say that it is interesting to watch people go on with their daily lives. It is a good way to kill time when you’re stuck in a traffic jam or are sitting on a train during a long ride home.

People Watching Is More Relaxing Than You Think!

But let’s admit, to just watch people without doing anything else can be quite relaxing. Not just that some people also find inspiration for their music, paintings, photos, poems, or story plots through people watching.

In fact, people watching can also help us better understand those around us. We begin to understand how and why people behave in a certain way.

We ask ourselves a lot of questions. Why is he happy? Why is the little girl crying? Is the lady okay?

Anyone who does it can argue that it is harmless. Besides, you’re not even touching them, right? They just happened to be within your line of sight.

But what do people really get from watching others? We find out.   

What Do You Get From People Watching?

According to Psychology Today, you learn a couple of traits when you focus on those around you.

1. The first lesson is an understanding of identity.

When you first look at somebody you immediately notice their clothes. Whether they wear sports regalia or high-street fashion wear or have a unique travel souvenir added as any accessory. Clothes say a lot about one’s identity.

In wearing something one is not comfortable in, you know that they are trying to project somebody they are not. Or, if they are too comfortable you may think they didn’t make enough effort to be presentable. 

2. The second is an understanding of self-esteem.

The way in which people walk reveals a lot about their confidence. If they walk with their shoulders back and maintain eye contact, they come across as confident. However, in some cases people can even come across as haughty and arrogant. 

3. The third is their emotional state. 

One of the most critical judgements we make while people watching is their emotional state. The way somebody walks or looks at those around him/her reveals a lot about their individual personality. People who tend to hold onto something do it as a way of protecting themselves from harm. Stress may also lead to similar sings. 

People are are happy, would smile a tonne. While those are sad, may give it away with their lost looks. 

We judge people by the way they walk, react, or dress. When we see a couple fighting, we might even start a whole scenario of how their fight started! By just being mere observers, we are already forming a preconceived idea about other people.

4. The fourth is their extrovert quality. 

If they engage with others and make eye contact and initiate a conversation, they are certainly the life of every party. You won’t see them retreating to a corner. And hey! If you get caught people watching such firecrackers, chances are they might come over to you. 

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Many countries allow you to sit, relax and people watch. | Image courtesy: Unsplash

It is essential to note at this juncture that people watching—if not done with the intention of perversion—is not a harmful act. In fact, in many countries citizens are allotted places to people watch.

People Watching Is An Acceptable Hobby In Many Countries 

If you search online, there are several results about the best people watching spots in some countries such as Japan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Thailand. Yes, really! 

Most of these places included in the lists are bars, parks, cafés, and restaurants.

In some countries like the Philippines, for example, people like to hang out with their neighbours outside their homes. They talk about anything under the sun especially the things that they see around the neighbourhood.

Playing ‘people watching games’ is also “more enjoyable” if you do it with a friend. There are a lot of games you can play which, unfortunately, involves a lot of making fun of other people.

But Is It A Perverted Pastime? 

While fun and games is great, the question here is: Has people watching become borderline perverted? 

Perhaps, it all boils down to the person’s intention.

Being curious is okay but poking fun of other people is another issue. It seems that the line that separates innocently observing people and intentionally making fun of them is very hard to determine at one glance.

Our behaviour is also affected when we are aware that we are being watched. You become conscious of your actions, making them unnatural.

So before you make fun of the people you watch, remember that you are most likely being watched by someone else as well. It does not feel good, thinking that you are being subject to jokes or even insults, right?

We will let you be the judge.

What do you think of people watching? Is it just a harmless hobby or a perverted pastime? Let us know in the comments below.

Source: Psychology Today 

(Feature & lead image courtesy: Pixabay)