This exercise requires that you go to a relatively busy public space where you have some degree of anonymity (for example, a mall, square, plaza, street corner, park, or sidewalk) and literally do nothing for 10 minutes. That means just stand or sit there and be unoccupied. Do not wait for someone, take a break, sightsee, or otherwise engage in a normal activity. Also, do not daydream, fantasize, think about the past or the future; do not entertain yourself with plans or internal dialogues. Do not look at your phone, text message, talk on the phone, whistle, hum, fidget, look in your bag, play with your keys, take notes, listen to music, or do anything else that might distract you from just being there and doing nothing. Do, however, observe the reactions of others to you, and pay attention to your own thoughts and feelings during these 10 minutes.
Some behaviors you might observe while you are “doing nothing”
Some behaviors you might observe while you are “doing nothing”:
Eye contact: Do people avoid making eye contact with you?
Body language: Do people change their posture near you? Do they move away from you? Do they stop to see what you are doing?
Facial expressions: Do people give you a strange look? Do they appear to be confused by your behavior? Suspicious? Amused? Indifferent? What does their facial expression look like and what does it suggest?
Ignoring you: Do people seem to simply ignore you? What about their behavior suggests that they are ignoring you?
After you have “done nothing” and completed your observation, reflect on this experience by answering the following questions, which are included in the Module One Worksheet. Your worksheet will be graded using the Module One Worksheet Rubric, which corresponds directly with the five questions listed below.
- Where did you conduct your observation?
- At what time of day did you conduct your observation?
- How did your appearance as an individual affect your observation? For example, gender, race/ethnicity, age, dress, hairstyle, and so on.
- Did anyone react to you? What did they look like, and what was their reaction? Consider the behaviors noted above.
- How did you feel while you were conducting the observation? Was it difficult for you to “do nothing?” How did this observation differ from your life as an everyday actor?