Do you ever just watch the people around you in a crowd?
Do you just stop and notice what people are wearing and the different faces and bodies of all the people around you?
Do you see the individuals, the pairs, the couples, the trios, the families, the friends, the groups, the practically-strangers-could-be-friends?
Do you notice the fact that most people don’t actually do this? That most people don’t see you? Their eyes just skate over you and everybody else around them. They are only focused internally or on their goal.
I was thinking about this tonight at the Queen Victoria Markets. Melbourne does a night market in the wintertime. There are loads of stalls with delicious food. There are stalls with cute knick-knacks. There is music and entertainment and fun novelty stalls.
There is also thousands of people crammed into a relatively small space, all trying to move around each other and go to the stall they want to purchase something from.
I don’t like crowds.
No, that’s an understatement. I despise crowds. I have social anxiety and moderate haphephobia (the fear of being touched or touching others) so having strangers pressing in close to me and bumping into me pretty much constantly is basically a nightmare. But since I like to push myself to get over these kinds of social inhibitions, I like to force myself to do these things. Also, I love food and it is my housemate’s birthday today and this is what we planned to do. And, really, I hate that my anxiety always plops itself in the way of things I like doing, like, eating delicious food at a market.
Anyway, I digress.
Due to the fact that I cannot stand being surrounded by hundreds of strangers who are invading my personal space and brushing against me, I always try to distract myself in those situations by people watching. People watching is great for inspiration for writing, and I like playing the game of making up stories about people if somebody is with me who also likes to people watch.
More than that, however, people watching has alerted me over the years to the fact that the majority of people do not notice the other people around them.
It’s interesting. It’s fun to sit there, and wonder what the people around you are doing and thinking, and then realise that there is a good chance none of them are wondering the same thing about you. Don’t get me wrong, I am quite aware that plenty of people do like to people watch, but the vast majority of people I tend to watch, their eyes slide right past every person around them. Most don’t even notice another person is anywhere near them until they bump into them.
And no, I’m not about to blame technology since most of the people I see watching into others aren’t even looking at their phone or tablet. They’re just not paying attention.
They’re too busy to pay attention.
And that’s really it. It isn’t technology, it isn’t ‘youths today’ (since most people who bump into me and don’t even apologise are older than I am). It’s the fact that most people are too busy to slow down, and notice everything around them. They don’t have time to peer into a shop window, or smile at that cute dog wagging its tail. They don’t have time to smile at the toddler who is smiling up at them as toddlers do.
I guess this post is just my roundabout way of saying that this world is too fast and too busy. People are too caught up in their lives they forget to stop and appreciate how wonderful life can be. I’m trying to say in a long-winded fashion, remember to stop and smell the roses, guys, or else they’ll be gone the next time you walk by.