Gransnet forums


People watching

(63 Posts)
WOODMOUSE49 Mon 12-Aug-19 12:33:50

I've had a weekly, now fortnightly, hospital visit for nearly three months so I have had lunch in town after/before the appointments. I used to read my book whilst waiting for food but people watching is fascinating.

I nearly put this in the PET PEEVE thread but ...

Seeing a family or group of people having a meal in restaurant, cafe or pub. Some not engaged (and this appears to be mainly children) with the conversation. They are glued to their phones. Not talking but texting or game playing. Only time they put it down is to eat, if they need a knife AND fork. Quite often the phone is still being used whilst the other hand holds the fork. I think to myself, is this killing the art of face to face conversation or discussions or standing in front of others to give a presentation etc. What a pity the adults don't involve them in the conversation.

I know teachers plan in opportunities for children to discuss or stand up and talk but are children coping well with this.

Any way, the thread is really about watching others as well as what we notice about them. Does anyone else do it?

Willow500 Mon 12-Aug-19 12:38:07

My husband is a great people watcher especially if we go to a shopping centre - he's quite happy to just sit and let me wander round the shops myself. Suits me too as I know how bored he gets being dragged in and out of shops grin

glammanana Mon 12-Aug-19 12:42:43

I love people watching nothing better than going over to Liverpool and sitting watching all the visitors to the City on their tours and listening to their comments on our great City.

Beckett Mon 12-Aug-19 12:59:33

I like to people watch too and find it strange how people can sit in a cafe/restaurant with someone and spend all their time using their phones, ignoring the person the other side of the table!

I was on holiday with a friend who did it to me, after 10 minutes I stood up, went for a walk, met up with a couple of others staying at the same hotel and didn't get back to her for a couple of hours. She was still sitting in the same place, still on her phone!

Grandma70s Mon 12-Aug-19 14:08:08

Simple family rule: no phones at the table.

When I people-watch I notice how many people are overweight, and wonder why personal pride or just vanity doesn’t prevent this. Perhaps it’s become the norm.

M0nica Mon 12-Aug-19 14:36:14

Love people watching.

A couple of years ago, and it was only a couple, I was fixated by a family in a restaurant. Parents, son (about 13) and grandmother. The 4 of them sat at their table for 45 minutes without saying a single word to each other, or anyone else, except to order their meal. Yes, they had phones, but actually hardly used them.

Pantglas1 Mon 12-Aug-19 15:03:04

I don’t just do ‘people watching’, I also love ‘people listening’ - it drives DH mad! I seem to catch half a conversation before he accuses me of earwigging and then I miss the ending!

ninathenana Mon 12-Aug-19 15:50:51

People watching is one of my favourite pastimes. I never sit with my back to the room in a pub or restaurant DH knows this and always takes the seat facing away from the main area. Park benches, waiting room, I'm happy to sit and watch.

Ok, I admit it. I'm nosey.

GoodMama Mon 12-Aug-19 15:50:58

Love people watching!

When my DH and I go out sometimes we’ll make up stories about the people we see.

Young couple sitting at a table with an older couple: meeting the parents! How exciting smile

Young woman walking in a smart (but inexpensive suit) with a smile on her face: just had the best job interview ever! We can’t wait for her to get the call tomorrow these she got the job.

Its all good fun.

GabriellaG54 Mon 12-Aug-19 16:39:56

I'm another prople watcher. Even when travelling on bus, train, tram, as a car passenger or on a plane, I never read, always watch the scenery or people.
IMV it's much more interesting.

RosieLeah Mon 12-Aug-19 16:50:11

I live near a childrens playground and like to watch the people in there. Young mums bringing their little ones for the first time, lots of dads too pushing swings.

One thing that is very clear....all this 'gender neutral' stuff is nonsense. The difference between the sexes is obvious from a very young age. Little girls behave in a totally different way from the boys. I watched a little girl yesterday go flouncing off to fetch Daddy after a disagreement with a boy. She strode off up the street in a typically female way. No doubting which sex she was!

Auntieflo Mon 12-Aug-19 16:55:22

I also love people watching, and listening.
I have heard that some authors keep a notebook, and jot down overheard conversations, or just snippets for their books. Fascinating.

GabriellaG54 Mon 12-Aug-19 21:44:10

Good grief! Missed that one blush
People not prople

MissAdventure Mon 12-Aug-19 21:52:04

I love watching people; I wonder about their lives; what secrets they hold, and whether their lives are happy or sad or somewhere in between.
I wonder if they're happily married, what family they might have.

In short, I'm very nosy!

Fennel Tue 13-Aug-19 09:18:43

I must be nosy too. I often sit in the local shopping square watching people go by.
There seem to be so many people out and about with health problems, worse than mine. I wonder how they cope.

polnan Tue 13-Aug-19 10:27:45

I love watching people

trendygran Tue 13-Aug-19 10:38:00

I love people watching -although sometimes in the city,I wonder why! Some amazing sights pass by whilst I am waiting for the bus home! The other day,after buying my ticket, I sat on the station ,eating a sandwich,and people watching there. Much more Interesting to see the travellers than the people passing my bus stop!

jaylucy Tue 13-Aug-19 10:38:00

I love people watching.
When I was in my teens, my dad was fairly happy to take mum and I shopping - he'd wait in the car and tell us of what he'd seen when we got back!
His favourite place was a small town not far from here that at the time had a lot of antique shops - those browsing around at the time seemed to have to dress for the part - waxed jackets, Hunter boots , women wearing headscarves - and pearls and men wearing those tweedy hats with fishing flies stuck in them! Doubt very much if that was how they dressed every day - in fact one woman once told me she dressed like that because she thought that it would look as if she knew what she was talking about with the antiques and would get a better bargain !!!

nipsmum Tue 13-Aug-19 10:39:39

Oh I love people watching in general, buy my daughter and I are even better at it.

Legs55 Tue 13-Aug-19 11:13:01

I love both people watching & people listening, I've got very good hearing & can often be caught "earwigging"grin.

One thing I do hate is when out with a friend & they say "don't turn round...." I want to turn round & have a lookhmm

Swanny Tue 13-Aug-19 11:14:29

Spent a happy hour at a pavement cafe abroad, with a very dear friend, just people watching. We were so relaxed in each others' company we had no need to talk and silently decided together when it was time to leave. Anyone watching us though would probably have thought we were thoroughly miserable for not speaking to each other!
Many years later remembering that hour still makes me smile with pleasure cafe

TrendyNannie6 Tue 13-Aug-19 11:18:01

I love to people watch too. Love to see how people interact with each other. It’s great to talk to dif people too. I very often sit on bench after doing my shopping . And engage in small talk with the others that share it.

Diane227 Tue 13-Aug-19 11:29:10

Sorry but I hate being "watched" and I dont do it to other people very often.
I have been known to go up to a woman who was staring and say "hello, do we know each other" .
I think its the height of rudeness to sit and make up stories about who others are and what they are doing. I think those who do must lead very sad boring lives.

Nanny41 Tue 13-Aug-19 12:38:59

I love people watching, especially in Airports,wondering where people are off to, also the different types of expressions on their faces, from stressed out, to worrying others looking relaxed,many on their phones of course.Some rushing, dragging children along, others wandering, many sitting down, also people watching,it is fascinating,I love it.

Squiffy Tue 13-Aug-19 12:50:21

Art galleries are great for people watching and earwigging! It's as entertaining as the actual art that we're supposed to be viewing. So many pretentious 'arty' experts trying to impress, with their so-called knowledge, whoever may be listening to their carefully overloud asides about the artists' works!

This probably says more about me than them blush

b1zzle Tue 13-Aug-19 13:21:11

Sitting at the till in a charity is a great opportunity for people watching!

Musicgirl Tue 13-Aug-19 13:25:45

I've always done it. People are endlessly fascinating. I try not to stare though.

GrannySomerset Tue 13-Aug-19 13:31:01

My (Irish) mother made any journey shorter by the stories she invented about fellow travellers. It was a great gift and I wish I had inherited it.

Glammy57 Tue 13-Aug-19 13:34:14

I’m another people-watcher! 😊

Jacks1 Tue 13-Aug-19 13:36:19

I enjoy people watching too, its fascinating. U can learn about body language. But try not to watch for too long or u get funny looks!

MissAdventure Tue 13-Aug-19 13:38:53

You're spot on, Diane.
My life is sad and boring.

I never stare though, that would be rude.

Rosina Tue 13-Aug-19 14:18:56

Ladies; 'people watching,' and in fact 'watching' anything that goes on around you is not, absolutely not, nosy. You are taking an interest in the world about you, and your fellow humans. This indicates lively intelligence and healthy curiosity. There is a sociological term for this practice, which I learned when studying; it is called 'Empirical Research', so next time you twitch the nets to see what is going on outside, remember that you are carrying out a recognised scientific practice, and improving your mind.

marpau Tue 13-Aug-19 14:35:01

When I used to car share with 2 other ladies we would make up stories about the other drivers and try to guess their occupation. We even had names for them based on registration plates the slow moving traffic into the city allowed a close up view as most were regular commuters. It was a tad embarrassing if any appeared at my place of work as I had to struggle not to use their fictional names.

Notsooldat75 Tue 13-Aug-19 14:58:21

I often look at the contents of other peoples’ shopping trolleys. Fascinating trying to work out why they have bought two bottles of gin, an aubergine, Bath oil and bleach?!
Does anyone else do this, I wonder?

MissAdventure Tue 13-Aug-19 15:05:48

Yes, I do that too.
I wonder what they're having for dinner, and who they're cooking for..

Theoddbird Tue 13-Aug-19 15:16:14

I love sitting having coffee outside a seaside cafe I go to. It is on a slope looking down to a big green and then the prom...perfect for people watching which I love to do.

KatyK Tue 13-Aug-19 15:23:29

I love people watching and, like Pantglas people earwigging. Sometimes when we are leaving a restaurant or somewhere, DH will say to me "I saw you listening to those people.grin What was their story?' Then I tell him what I heard. Do you think we need to get a life? grin

Tamayra Tue 13-Aug-19 15:33:10

I remember taking some visiting American friends to an upmarket restaurant on Sydney Harbour during the 2000 Sydney olympics
I said to them very quietly “Don’t look now but Princess Anne & hubby are sitting just behind you”
They immediately both jumped up & announced they needed the ladies room
Better than just turning around I guess !

Hilarybee Tue 13-Aug-19 15:42:58

I would use the phrase ‘interested in people’ rather than ‘nosey’. It sounds a lot better to me

Amagran Tue 13-Aug-19 15:49:49

Yes, I am a people watcher too, but after reading the posts on this thread, I realise there are a lot of us around......I am now afraid to leave the house!! grin

Destin Tue 13-Aug-19 15:56:06

Really wonder what appeals to folk about sitting and people watching - it’s such a passive isolated activity! Sitting alone, watching everyone .... who you don’t know or where they have come from or where they are going to! Completely conversation-less, just making up little mental fantasies without speaking! Maybe the appeal is that it’s a hobby that just comes with old age and inactivity when there is nothing better to do!

MissAdventure Tue 13-Aug-19 15:58:53

I'm 56, (still working and bringing up a child) so not sure 'old age' or 'inactivity' has anything to do with it. smile

annifrance Tue 13-Aug-19 16:08:22

Best place for people watching is a Parisian pavement cafe.

Fennel Tue 13-Aug-19 16:49:08

I don't see any harm in it.
Except I sometimes find myself being judgemental, which isn't a good thing.
Going back to the strange man I saw in the supermarket with all the tattoos and devil's horns - he was buying a huge vacuum cleaner. What was he going to do with it? Maybe he was just a regular husband buying it to give his wife a present?

KatyK Tue 13-Aug-19 17:12:08

Nothing to do with old age. I've always done it.

dogsmother Tue 13-Aug-19 17:18:54

Me too, I love traveling and the time spent on the transport or in airports or train stations for that reason is fine by me as it provides wonderful people watching opportunities.

Amagran Tue 13-Aug-19 17:24:21

Sitting alone, watching everyone .... who you don’t know or where they have come from or where they are going to! Completely conversation-less, just making up little mental fantasies without speaking!

That's right Destin, just the way that creative people in the arts have been doing since time immemorial: playwrights, authors, scriptwriters, actors, film-makers, painters, sculptors......I could go on. But of course, if you do it once you're over the age of 60, you're clearly just a wrinkly old saddo.

GoodMama Tue 13-Aug-19 17:29:42

Oh Destin, lighten up. No one here has mentioned hurting anyone or judging them.

In fact they are taking about the joy of seeing people out and about. Appreciating the diverse world we live in. Enjoying being out in the world, content to observe at times not always being the center of attention.

It’s wonderful to be content with your own life and be able to just sit, quietly observe the world around you and be happy to just watch the world go by around you.

The only person negative and judging here is you.

Pantglas1 Tue 13-Aug-19 17:34:00

Nothing to do with old age Destin, been interested in folks all my life and hope never to stop!

FarNorth Tue 13-Aug-19 17:47:24

Fennel maybe he was actually about to do a lot of hoovering, himself.

FarNorth Tue 13-Aug-19 17:49:51

I like watching the world go by, without making up any stories.
Maybe that means I'm even sadder for not bothering.

quizqueen Tue 13-Aug-19 19:19:31

I think if you stare too intently at strangers out in public these days, you are likely to get punched. I don't do people watching but I do talk to their dogs and look at the scenery; much nicer.

Justme67 Tue 13-Aug-19 19:29:01

I had no idea so many people enjoyed my simple pleasure, it has always been one of the things my other half allowed for when we were sitting having coffee, lunch, or anywhere, he always made sure that I was the one facing the activity. At one time I made up stories about families, find I have lost that art, but still interested in what goes on.

CanadianGran Tue 13-Aug-19 19:54:19

As for the lament about conversation, I do agree that chit chatting with strangers is becoming a lost art. Everyone these days on a bus or at the doctor's office is busy with their phones. Even the mums at the playground; they will not connect with others if they don't look up once in a while!

My DH is better at striking up conversation than I am, and we had some lovely conversations on vacation while sitting at cafes or on the beach.

WOODMOUSE49 Tue 13-Aug-19 20:41:54

I go with DH when he's working in Lynmouth, Devon. There is no mobile signal there, unless things have changed this year. last visit was mid 2018.

It's great walking around and sitting on the front. No mobiles out. People look at you when you pass. smile

Bijou Tue 13-Aug-19 22:45:10

When I go to town shopping I sit and eat my sandwich and watch the people coming to and from the bus station.
Not only are the majority overweight but even on a sunny warm day are wearing jeans and dull coloured t shirts. The sort of thing I would wear for gardening. I only saw two dresses and they were worn by elderly ladies.

MissAdventure Wed 14-Aug-19 01:13:55

I don't really look at that stuff.
I look at their faces, their wrinkles, the things that make them attractive, their body language.
I have absolutely no interest whatsoever in celebrities, ordinary people hold far more intrigue for me. smile

SueH49 Wed 14-Aug-19 02:32:15

^Grandma70s said
"When I people-watch I notice how many people are overweight, and wonder why personal pride or just vanity doesn’t prevent this". ^

If only it was that simple, that is a very judgemental comment and shows no empathy at all for people who in spite of their best efforts are unable to loose weight.

Almostemptynesty Wed 14-Aug-19 03:42:59

That was boastful and mean.

I am overweight bc I have a rare disease that makes me very tired. It was diagnosed too late to be cured.

I was always quite active and trim before I was ill. Now I eat very little but am unable to be as I once was. I exercise as I can.

My family is delighted that I am still here on this planet. So while I feel embarrassed at my body, I feel loved. It is what keeps me going; knowing that I am needed.

And neither vanity nor personal pride really get to enter into my appearance now as my main goal isn't looking up to your standards; it's staying alive to enjoy and give to my family. Somedays it's all I can do to do the bare minimum of life functions.

And OP. YES! Nothing so interesting as watching people if I am lucky enough to be out and about. I'll even sit in our car and wait for my dh bc I can people watch.

We loved going to restaurants bc it was time specifically for our family. No distractions. Just family. I hate to see children/parents on screens instead of sharing with family at meals. So much of screen time is just wasting time instead of building family.

Jacks1 Wed 14-Aug-19 12:27:55

I am totally on board with what u say. My family are my world too. Enjoy them and be yourself if anyone gets in the way of that then they are not needed by the likes of us.

Jacks1 Wed 14-Aug-19 12:33:07

I like this very much and will try to remember this official name as it sounds so much more intelligent

Tigertooth Sun 18-Aug-19 20:51:36

I hate being watched - it’s so rude. We do know you do it you know!
It makes me really insecure - what are they thinking about me etc. Please don’t do it - it’s so horrible.

Tigertooth Sun 18-Aug-19 21:32:28


Simple family rule: no phones at the table.

When I people-watch I notice how many people are overweight, and wonder why personal pride or just vanity doesn’t prevent this. Perhaps it’s become the norm

You sound like a really really lovely person.