The Pros of People Watching

by Morgan Spillman

As people, we are always watching, constantly viewing and consuming the world around us. We’ve watched endless YouTube, Vine, Instagram, and Tik Tok videos of anything and everything, from cooking tutorials to cats playing the piano. There’s even videos of people just eating food (“Muckbangs,” if you will) or vlogging their everyday lives. However, it’s even more interesting to watch people in real life instead of virtually, but not in the Joe Goldberg sort of every-step-you-take type of stalking. It’s more about observing the human experience. It’s fun to observe people from afar and mentally attribute their actions. For example, you could see someone walking their dog in Central Park, but this someone is not just anyone. She’s Rebecca, who’s 24, and she’s walking her pug, Tony, after her Pilates class. 

One thing about New York City is that, everyone has a story and place to be. You can always catch a short glimpse into someone’s story, even if you see them for just a few seconds through their apartment window. People watching is fun from a higher perspective, since you can “become” the narrator of some movie. You can essentially watch people anywhere; the Caf, through the window of a high story building, on a fire escape, Eddies, in a park, and the steps of the Met. 

Might I say, Washington Square Park is a very interesting place to people watch? This is simply because the park contains huge array of people. It’s not just your typical city business people – they’re unique people. People selling clothes, people selling drugs, people doing drugs, people writing poetry, people skateboarding, people sunbathing, people painting themselves into statues. There are street performers, people walking their dogs, and there are also people blasting music. I’m from California, and if there’s anything I could compare it to, it’s Venice Beach. The only difference is there’s a lot less weed and no sign of the beach. 

People watching is extra fun when you’re single. You can either be disgusted by the happiness of the couples around you or live vicariously through observing their drama. Musician Conan Gray released a song called “People Watching” that describes this exact phenomenon. With regards to falling in love, he sings about how “one day I’ll be falling, without caution / but for now I’m just people watching.” The act of watching people be in love can be quite painful when you’re lonely. 

One way people cope with their feelings of loneliness is through anonymous apps, such as Yik Yak. Fordham students discovered interesting ways to connect and express themselves through this popular app. Students often mark their unique observations on this app, such as “barefoot man spotted coming from McGinley. Be careful out there” (Nearby, 6 minutes ago).  Another anonymous observation was “NYU white girls are like ‘Ewww Bronx is so gross’

then will go snort lines off the bathroom floor”(Less than a mile away, 8 hours ago). Others announced  interesting things like: “Yellow Kappa Kid will be at Barnyard on Saturday dressed as a horse”(1 mile away, 10 hours ago). We don’t know who this Yellow Kappa Kid is, or where he was seen, but users seem to be very intrigued by him. “Yellow Kappa Kid just catcalled my dad? The plot thickens…”(1 mile away, 10 hours ago), “Yellow Kappa kid yelling slurs from the top of Keating steps!”, “Yellow Kappa kid just got FUEMed”, among other observations. 

There also seem to be several observations and generalizations of Gabelli kids on the app as well. For example, “You’re from Gabelli? Name every stock,” “Oh, you’re in Gabelli? Name every business then,” “You’re in Gabelli? Give me your money,” “Gabelli bros, what are your thoughts on women’s rights?” and “Imagine a Gabelli kid not manipulating people.” These are only some of the bold observations made about the students of Gabelli. Even Fordham’s athletes aren’t safe – “Just 2 confirm: athletes stay on electric scooters during sex, @ Fordham Football and Basketball.” YikYak’s  ability to allow users to make bold and anonymous observational comments ensures its popularity. 

Making comments or not, people watching still proves to be fun. We don’t really know everyone’s story but we know everyone has one so sometimes it’s fun to just be creative.

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