My concentration is terrible. I am sitting in one of the city’s most wonderful environments in which to sit and study, and here I am, unable to read Ong, or focus on the strategic plan briefs that I need to process before beginning upon my own public relations assignment.
The State Library is such a calm place. People wander through the halls and study areas, reading, sitting, gazing, typing away on their computers. It is quite ironic how much digital technology there is in a place literally founded on and bounded by print literature and books. But a class I am taking at university this semester has really changed my opinion of what can and should be considered ‘a technology’.
Technologies are not just digital mediums. Prior to this study I would view the technologies I use on a day to day basis as my iPhone, my laptop, the microwave, the fridge, the digital touch-on-touch-off transportation system – here in Melbourne, known as Myki -, my electric blanket, lights, my blow heater and other devices that involve pushing a button on or off. You get the gist. Something ultimately, mechanical.
In fact, I am learning that the scope of what is considered to be a technology is far wider than I’d originally (and naively) considered. Wikipedia states that a Technology is the making, modification, usage, and knowledge of tools, machines, techniques, crafts, systems, methods oforganization, in order to solve a problem, improve a preexisting solution to a problem, achieve a goal or perform a specificfunction. It can also refer to the collection of such tools, machinery, modifications, arrangements and procedures. Thus, technologies are systems or networks that exist to perform a particular function as we live and arrange our lives. Technologies help us categorise things and they help us navigate pathways to a certain location or degree of specificity.
So in fact, here in the city of Melbourne, I am surround my technologies. I have the transportation system which helps Melbournians get around town, we have the laneway culture and networks that have been established over the years and act as a kind of secret society linking together like-minded, creative individuals in hidden haunts and corners of the city. In the State Library here, I am surrounded by one of the most significant technologies of all time. The invention of print and the printing press has had such a profound impact on the way we communicate, understand and relate to others. We are constantly surrounded by words, stories and oral communications that would not have the same meaning without substantiation in the written world. We learn through reading, which is why literacy itself is such a crucial skill to learn whilst one is young. Communities with high rates of illiteracy have subsequent impediments in other aspects of their communities including higher levels of ill health, lower education completion rates, issues with violence and illness, as well as complex problems of being unable to relate to others in an appropriate manner. Education and literacy are key aspects of a human’s vitality and should not be ignored at any expense.
Anyway, as I sit amidst all these life enhancing technologies, I feel like all I want to do is watch people. I am a people watcher at heart. It is my dream job. If sometime in the next two to 20 years a similar position emerges within the workforce (and it isn’t entirely impossible given the increasing amount of new jobs becoming available), I will literally pounce at it, wherever in the world it may be. I LOVE watching people. I love looking at the way they relate to others, watching people communicate. I love observing how they present themselves to the world both in terms of what they wear, how they voice their opinions, their choice in shoes, their mannerisms, whether they dress for the climate or decide they live in Cairns on a freezing Melbourne winter’s day. Shorts and a t-shirt rarely cuts it down here, just a heads up for those planning a visit during any season other than summer.
How amazing it would be to be paid to watch and observe, comment and voice my thoughts. The position could be titled something fancy like “communication explainer” or “observer of the person-filled environment”. If there is anyone out there reading this or who knows of someone in need of another pair of eyes and ears, PLEASE let me know and I’d love to get in contact with them.
I’d love to further my studies of communication through visual and aesthetic elements, as well as relating it all back to the histories of the technologies we use to keep us this state of constant communication. I love art and I think I’ve been brought up to appreciate the vibe and culture of a place, in addition to what it offers consumer-wise. Maybe I’ll end up doing a thesis in personal observation, or something that involves being by myself and in my own world, whilst simultaneously being a part of a bigger world, and interacting with others through just the lenses of our eyes, as an observer. Our eyes have the power to say so much and maybe this is a reason why people of my generation find face-to-face conversations so confronting. We’re used to getting away with vague emails, quick signs offs on texts and emoticons to display our deepest feelings. When you are made to look someone in the eye, you are exposing yourself in a manner much more profound than you are through plain text, even in the absence of any sound or verbal communication.
Although inherent and obvious, it is harder to hide yourself from someone when your contact is head on. It is then we learn to put up barriers and create facades to hide what’s truly going on inside, which leads to social insecurities, personal angst and frustration, as well as substantial issues of mental health and securing one’s own identity.
But that will be left for another time.
Contact me if you want someone to watch you. Or someone else. Or if you just like people watching, too. I’m in it for the long-haul.
And if you’ve got any particular spots, suburbs or regular events you like to people watch at, let me know. I’d love the try them out, sometime.