I don’t think there’s any getting around the natural curiosity of people. Everyone at some point or another, will be interested in what someone else is doing, buying, reading, wearing, eating, saying, etc. In most cases, it is not intended to be malicious, something has merely peaked interest for some reason or another. Below is my version of the American Gawker.
The Incognito Gawker- This person is out in a public environment and the weather is such that they have sunglasses on. When something out of the ordinary catches their attention, they realize that they can place their head so it does not seem they are watching, while moving the eyes to an effective viewing position.
The Tourist Gawker-The Tourist gawker is also out in a public place, usually with at least one other person in their group. In this case, the gawking is usually caused by an unusual appearance or activity that could be easily captured in a still frame form. One person will pose for a picture in a manner where the subject of interest is in the background, allowing a photo to be taken without it appearing suspicious.
The Morbid Curiosity Gawker- This gawker, or gawkers, are either a secondary cause of a traffic backup, in the case where the accident is at least partially blocking traffic, or the main cause when it is not. As he or she slows down to try to identify the possible injuries or deaths, cause of an accident, damage done, and vehicles involved, they cause the remaining traffic to have to slow, or stop.
The Dart-Eyed Gawker- While watching a person, or group of people, this gawker will get caught in the act. This causes them to dart their eyes in another direction, as if they were actually in the process of turning to look at something else all along. It rarely works. Busted!
The Gap-Mouth Gawker- In this case, whatever the situation that is grabbing someone’s attention may be, it is so shocking that even though they will not walk right up to it, they will be beyond the worry of being noticed, so caught up in their amazement they are in a full-on stare.
The Background Gawker- This person is usually at a family event, a party, or wedding, and sits along the side of the room, or in a corner, watching events unfold. Rarely, does anyone even realize this person is still there. Hidden in plain view.
The Modern Technology Gawker- This gawker initiates a texting circle among friends or neighbors to find out what is going on with a mutual friend or neighbor. In most cases, these are started once a police car, ambulance, or other emergency vehicle is seen near, or at the subject’s house. It can also be caused by unfamiliar car observances, loud noises, or social activity.
The Small Town Gawker- This gawker will come out during the same situations as the Modern Technology Gawker, barring snow, rain, hail or cold (these conditions would fall back to the above method), and drift toward the subject of interest. Once finding another neighbor who may have information, they will gather at a distance and compare notes.
The Social Media Gawker- This person may, or may not be, a “lurker” who rarely posts, but reads news feeds and checks the home page of anyone that may peak their interest. This can happen on Facebook, Twitter, Pintrest, or any other similar social sites.
The Foodie Gawker- This most commonly occurs in restaurants where someone sees an interesting dish pass by on a tray. This person wants to know what it is. If they still have a menu, they will immediate start scanning to find the item. This also occurs at ethnic restaurants. When one wants to find the tastiest and most authentic food or dish, they will find a restaurant with the most people who appears to be from the nation that the food is from, and then watch to see what they order.
The American Gawker usually does not want to be identified. They prefer to gawk on the sly. This happens for a number of reasons. One is because we are (correctly) taught that “staring” is not polite. We also don’t want to appear to be “nosy.” In many cases, such as the Foodie Gawker, and once the situation has cleared, the Modern Technology Gawker or Small Town Gawker, they could just ask the person involved. This, however, is usually avoided due to embarrassment, lack of relationship with the subject, or fears of how the questions will be received.
Human curiosity is not going anywhere. Inquiring minds want to know. The gawking will continue, the methods will change and evolve with time. Who knows what it will be next!