To begin, I decided to write my report on my experiences and observations at the Fairview Park Mall in Kitchener. The mall is a social gathering hub for all walks of life and ethnicities, and is a great place to observe the numerous ways people act with others or by themselves. Humans, especially women, have more of a special or intimate connection with malls in general as apposed to men. The mall offers a great opportunity to observe numerous interactions or relationships between groups of people, families with their kids, as well as how different cultures adapt to or understand social norms and signs.
Observing people during their day-to-day routine is somewhat of a common activity. We humans, are a social species so it is inherent or natural that we observe others and their interactions. Being an acute observer of people gives us an insight into human behaviour and norms which prove to be very invaluable, especially from an anthropological and sociological standpoint.
The finest places to witness people have probably always been the marketplaces, public squares; or anywhere people tend to gather to carry out their day-to-day tasks in life whether it involves business, leisure or even travel. This is why malls are an abundant terrain to observe a plethora of people.
At the mall, I have observed so many ethnicities, and people of different ages that prowl the mall grounds. As I was at the mall, it was full of people who appeared to be in their 20s trying to dress and act like they are teenagers; I see this everyday that I pass through the mall on my way home.
I am able to make this distinction because there are normally actual teenagers swamping the halls around the food courts or near the video game store (EB Games) on weekdays, with their dyed hair, colourful clothing and clumsy superficial hugs as they greet and give farewells to each other. Furthermore, I always observe so many younger people that are insanely glued to their cellphones, so completely unaware of their surroundings and not bothering to look out for possible collisions when people are walking in their direction. Not to mention that there is always an obscene number of younger women lingering in and around the two makeup stores right across from each other (Sephora and MAC), which always tends to give me such trepidation when I “try” to walk by while also trying to avoid being sucked into one of these stores myself.
For my next set of observations, I noticed that children are wonderful specimen to observe because children tend to do things that adults would very much avoid to do out in public. Once you reach your teenage years, you would have already begun to express and establish your own social habits, whereas adults become more mature and rational with their behaviour out in public, at least for most of the time. However, kids tend do what comes to their devious, little minds rather than what they are supposed to normally behave to avoid publicly embarrassing their parents.
Furthermore, I was walking by a lingerie store called LaSenza, and I noticed an Eastern-Asian couple who appeared to be in their mid-late 20s or early 30s were speaking in what was most likely Korean. I will put a disclaimer though, I grew up having a lot of Asian friends so much to the point where I do not racial profile Asian cultures, and have listened to plenty of their languages to at least be able to recognize what language they are speaking. Tracing back to the couple, they were pointing to one of the most risqu? pieces of lingerie that was in the window display. I jealously observed some of the intimate gestures and body language they were showcasing towards each other, the leaning in and whispering even though they were not speaking English, their smiles of excitement and laughter; the couple were dressed very nicely, they almost looked like models for a modern fashion magazine. For a brief moment, witnessing their displays of affection reminded me of times when I used to visit the very same store with an ex-boyfriend, mirroring the same kind of mischief and affection for my partner.
To conclude, one of the aspects to this experiential report I was thinking about was the relationship between malls and women. As I observed, I realized it was not just a place for us women to go waste our money on makeup or clothes and other pointless purchases; the mall is a vast backdrop for socializing, celebrating events (birthdays), appreciating products and enjoying various a various selection of food from the food courts. Furthermore, without any social norms and signs, there would be pandemonium; people would act with unruly, disrespectful behaviour and disrupt a perfect environment meant to be a gathering hub for a variety of types of people and cultures. Although, an important thing to take note of is sometimes people act out disrespectfully or irrationally if they are trying to adapt to different social norms and cultures than what they used to.
As humans, we develop our own unique body language and mannerisms, one motion at a time throughout life, and at times those very motions tend to define us and how other people view each other. Humans can be very unaware or not privy to a lot of minor traits we exhibit individually all the while these traits play a crucial role in what makes us identifiable to people who actually know us, whether it is a specific manner or the habitual way we embrace ourselves. The most miniscule body language quirk can make a major impact. In conclusion, I spent a total of roughly two hours at the mall leisurely walking, observing and taking in the abundance of humanity right before my eyes. When it came down to my experiences, I had a bit of an epiphany before I left; observing people can be fun and entertaining. Initially thinking it would strange and outright “creepy” just watching people going about their business for the sake of a report.
In a setting such as a mall, it can be quite wonderful so long as you go about your routine and casually take note of the plethora of diverse strangers you have to share the place with for brief period of time. As a student, placing myself in the mindset of a researcher into this type of sociological or anthropological situation has supplied me with delightful reflections that I took note of in regards to humanity and its behavioural traits, body language, as well as gaining an insight to various cultures and social norms.
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