You are a curious person. We all are. We love to learn new things, make new discoveries. We never stop learning throughout our lives, and that’s always a good thing. There are so many areas of human behaviour that humor me, but none more than the curiosity that we have for other people. We are such nosey bodies when it comes to other people’s business, aren’t we?
We often look at total strangers that we pass in every day life and instantly wonder about them and pass judgements. For example, this morning I was waiting at my usual bus stop and there was a woman who had more than the usual commuter items with her. Of course, there was the requisite steel coffee cup complete with lid, but on the ground before her was a backpack with zippers straining to hold back the contents from bursting out all over the sidewalk. The side pouches were stuffed with plastic bags and rope. There was a medium sized ice chest sitting beside it. It was large enough to easily hold a twelve pack, my curious mind concluded. As I pondered this, the woman placed her coffee mug on top of it. Apparently it also made a good impromptu coffee table.
As I looked her over, I put it all together and tried to decide based on her clothing what her job might be. Researcher, perhaps? On her way to collect samples in the field and store them in the cooler for the trip back to the lab? Apparently satisfied with this conclusion, I moved on to observe the Jack Black doppelganger who was pacing back and forth, eating peanut butter cookies out of a disposable sandwich bag.
I also wonder what conclusions people draw about me as I sit there. I am sure they play the same little game as I do while waiting for the bus, or while passing the time riding to their stop. It’s tempting sometimes to play with their assumptions. Maybe I should’ve been an anthropologist instead of a chemist, but it’s always fun to people watch, and I think that makes us all keen observers of human behaviour.
Do you ever play this game with yourself? As you drive past neat rows of houses, do you wonder what the lives of the people who live inside are like? Do you wonder how they afforded that fancy house? Whenever I pass a huge mansion-type house, my first thought it always, “I bet there are only two people living in that huge waste of space” – sigh. If I see a middle aged man driving a snazzy convertible I think, “Midlife crisis”. At the grocery store it’s easy to tell if someone is buying for a family or for one. I can’t remember the last time I used a cart with wheels – I’ve seen people watching what I put down on the counter and I’m sure they are deciding I’m a single girl. Hey, can I help it if I love Magnum Ice cream?!?
One of the most acceptable, though most often ridiculed forms of curiosity with other people comes from celebrity news. Fact is, no matter how much you say you hate celebrity gossip, I bet you know tons about celebrities. All I have to do is mention the name ‘Tom Cruise’ and I bet you can think of tons of things about his personal life. We love to taunt the people in or lives who pay attention to celebrity gossip, yet I bet at one time or another we are all mildly fascinated at some point. We can’t help it!
Thank goodness for our curiosity about others. Being curious keeps us close to one another, keeps us aware of our society and the personalities contained in it. As we study other humans, we learn which types of behaviour fall within the normal scale, which makes it easier for us to recognize those among us who appear abnormal – those that might intend to do us harm. Our curiosity serves to protect us while teaching us about each other at the same time. Enjoy your healthy curiosity – hey – did you hear the Spice Girls might be getting back together again?