How to people watch without getting caught

Admit it, sometimes listening to some couple’s private conversation or watching an old lady who screams randomly at the other bus passengers is too good to miss. It’s the kind of reality show that we can indulge in all the time and then feel all smug about it because we are not wasting our lives being couch potatoes but furthering our life education. Getting caught is not so much fun though, so here are some tips on not getting busted.

Carry a cover with you at all times
A book, a magazine, even a leaflet will do. If the subject of your mission looks at you, just pretend to read.  Of course you’ll have to be quick to lower your head but if you do get caught in the process, you can always compose an air of intellectual thought. Stare into your cup and move your lips a little, as if muttering wisdoms about the world.

Play the role of a writer
This is one of the best devices for people watching. You can get away with staring directly at almost anyone as long as you assume the vacant air of a writer deep in thought about their book and then jot down a few things in your notebook. The laptop doesn’t work as well in this case and would probably make you look like a nerdy freak.

Pretend to be blind
For the really determined and shameless the ultimate props would be a white stick and a large pair of sun glasses. Or you could try wearing sunglasses and facing another way while observing your subject with just your eyes. Keep switching sides though unless you want a headache afterwards.

Be yourself
Reflective surfaces and peripheral vision are good if you are a bit of a chicken and are prepared to sacrifice the image quality for that extra bit of safety. And the risk takers would do well staring openly and unashamedly. If you do get caught, smile and start a conversation. That always works. Almost.

First published on 
How to people watch without getting caught 


Author: Maia Nikitina

Writer, reviewer, blogger.

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