Wednesday, 24 March 2010

Making assumptions

Without trying to sound strange, I like watching people. Due to the fact that this semester our assignments have asked us to observe how people react, I have found myself watching people a lot more.

Today coming home from Dundee, I observed a lot of different types of behaviour. Everybody is unique and the behaviour I surveyed echoed this.

Driving along the dual carriageway, there had been a crash involving a car and a bus - the car coming off the worst. Almost everyone on the bus craned their necks to see what had happened and some tried to figure out what had happened, talking animatedly amongst other fellow passengers and making a connection over something so horrible. It was interesting watching those people who did not look though. Some glanced quickly and then diverted their gaze in another direction almost as if they were scared that they were going to see something that they did not want to see. Others looked straight ahead as if trying to block out the scene and pretend nothing had happened.
It was also interesting seeing how people reacted to the crash on the scene. With no Police or Paramedics it was clear that the crash had not long occurred and with no control in place, traffic started to move in an unusual fashion. Cars tried to bump up onto the central reservation and lorries tried to drive through the mucky fields - attempting anything to try and pass the wreckage. With no Police hold people seemed not to know what to do and acted out of character suggesting that the presence of Officers can have a calming affect on a situation.

Police are there to protect. When something occurs or someone reacts in a fashion that is seen as socially unacceptable they are the people we rely on to look after us. Randomly meeting and chatting with an old man and lady while waiting for another bus to my village I was told a story about a man who they had witnessed the previous day arguing with a crow. Shouting and cursing at this crow, the old man described how the manner in which the man was acting was having a disturbing affect on passers by and the Police removed the man to restore peace. Humans are notorious for being stuck in habits, do anything to disturb this pattern and the effects could be detrimental. Reminding me of the book 'The Tipping Point' where context was believed to be the main cause of a man named Bernie Goetz to attacking 4 youths, I tried to understand here how this idea could be related. With hundreds of people using the bus station each day, by not arresting this man, the message being sent out to others that his behaviour was acceptable may invite others to offend when they normally might not have implying that we are susceptible to abnormal stimuli.
Another factor of the story that interested me was the fact that the man arrested had an artificial leg which was on show due to his shorts he wore. Just coming into spring, it strikes me as being a little strange that this man was wearing shorts in the first place as it was not the warmest of days yesterday. Myself, I would have wanted to cover this up. The old man described him as being loud and tough looking and appearing to be drunk or on drugs. He also added that he appeared to be an ex solider who had fought in a war. It is all very easy for us to express our disgust but I cannot help but think that maybe that this was a plea, subconscious or not, for us to regard him. Possibly wanting to show us the effect the war had had on him with the drink or drugs being a reasonable explanation behind his behaviour. One thing I have learnt from this years Design Studies module though is never to assume! Some of the points I have mentioned could be complete nonsense but they have got me thinking about things...

Eventually when I finally got on the bus home the old man, lady and myself seemed to create a triangle on the bus in the positions we had chose to sit in. In Interiors there is a term known as the kitchen triangle where the sink, cooker and fridge should be in a triangle shape so as to create a regulated work flow, but in our case a level of connection?
With people hopping on and off at stops all the time most people on the bus will watch them curiously, regarding them until the get to their seat or the bus leaves them at their destination. It was interesting though when a man with a large tattoo covering his face got on the bus to see how the passengers around me behaved with some people reacting really strangely. Some moved to the edge of their seats so that he could not sit next to him and I even saw some people grip onto their bags a little tighter. What did they expect this man to be? With so many things being associated with tattoo's these people were conforming to the thing that most people do when they are unsure of something, fear... I bet if they had started speaking to this man he would have been perfectly normal and not some mad man that many people stereotyped him to be. Never judge a book by it's cover...

With thanks:

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