Wednesday, June 10, 2009

People Watching: A Social Experiment

Last weekend we went to the Grand Floral Parade. Our first time. We decided to make our way to the top of the Burnside Bridge for great seats on the curb. It was fun. However, it started a bit late. We were not sure what exactly was taking them so long, but we were trying to think of a good way to pass the time...and boy, did we!

There were parade people handing out sidewalk chalk to the kids and adults to keep them entertained. At first we declined the offer, but after awhile I had an idea and went out in search for some chalk. I came back with 2 boxes and giggles. After picking a brand new stick of white chalk, I ventured over to the opposite side of the bridge. Under a tall lamppost, I drew a line across the sidewalk with the following words in capital letters: "STOP AND LOOK UP". The pre-parade entertainment had begun!

A large majority of people just walked by, not noticing the instructions written under their feet. Likely because there were many other things to look at: crowds of people, city buildings, the river, etc. Many people actually looked down to read the note but just kept on walking. I suspect that either something else was on their mind or they were afraid it was a prank. Only a small handful of people were actually curious enough to tilt their heads up to the sky. Thankfully, my anxious camera lens was pointed in their direction.

We had great seats for the show. The parade crowds were loud enough (and we were far enough away) for those curious ones not to hear our laughing. In addition to the entertainment this experiment provided us, a sociological fascination lingers in my mind. What would I do? Would I look up? Would I think that someone was watching? People watching is so much fun because even though everyone acts differently, you can still often see patterns in behavior.

And the winner goes to... the last photo in this post. This couple kept looking up at the top of the lamppost over and over again. More than anyone else. It had been about 3 straight minutes of them looking up, looking down, reading the sign again, looking up again, and repeating. Hilarious.


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