People Watching

Do you enjoy guessing what people are doing, where they live, or what their bad habits are? Do you people watch? I do it to pass the time.

Who are these people? Are they going to work or playing a game of dress up?

Fearless people are interesting to watch. 

Ron Perlman

From the voice of Chibundu Onuzo–I’ve missed traditional people-watching during the lockdown. Of course, we all watched people from our windows. The delivery drivers who always seemed to go to the wrong address. The mothers (and it was mostly mothers in my neighbourhood) on their school runs, herding children to the school gates. And of course, the righteous runners, cyclists and power walkers, refusing to let a global pandemic stand in the way of their fitness goals.

The Guardian, Lockdown Stole the Fun of People Watching

How to Begin People Watching by wikiHow.

  1. Find an area with the demographic that you want to watch.
  2. Go to an area that is well-populated.
  3. Sit in a spot where you’re out of the way.
  4. Set goals for your people watching if you want to learn something. (people watching is good for character studies in writing and acting)
  5. Bring a friend with you to have more fun.
  6. Wear an outfit that won’t make you stand out.
  7. Bring a notebook to write down interesting moments or people.
  8. Act like you are doing something on a phone or laptop.
  9. Think about each person that passes and who they might be.
  10. Avoid passing judgement on anyone.
  11. Observe people’s body language to pick up on their emotions.
  12. Listen to people’s voices as they talk to learn more about them.  – steps by wikiHow, italics are mine

Most of the information is simple, but there are a few reminders which I find useful such as, don’t make yourself obvious. I also like going to heavier populated areas if I can. The more people, the less likely you will be noticed, think sports events and farmer’s markets.

Remember why you are watching people. For me, this is not stalking or ridiculing people. I enjoy observing real speech patterns and true interactions as they happen. If I hear a good phrase I jot it in my phone app. These are valuable when writing fiction dialogue.

Being an actress, I find myself people-watching and I can be quite shy. 

Emma Watson

Is there anything you would add or change? Do you people watch? Or is it repulsive to you? I want to know. Leave a comment.

Published by

janetkwest

Janet West has been a writer since the late 1990s. When someone asked, "If nothing were impossible, what would she do?" The answer was automatic. Write. When she crafted her ideas into words, she felt alive. Her early writing years were in child development magazines, but now her interests have expanded. Although the love of learning and teaching is still the core of who she is.

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