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25 Oct 2014

Through The Glass Doors

I was 10 minutes early, so I had to wait in the reception area. Looking out the glass doors of the studio, I remembered a colleague complaining about the guys at the Pilates studio measuring their customers' waist and weight right there.

It looks so bad. Don't they realize that people on the road can see what's going on inside?

The truth is no, they don't. Most of the time, we don't realise that the people on the other side of the barrier are watching us. We know that they can see us but it's not on our minds as we go about our day. We pretend that everyone is getting on goes with their business, unmindful of what is happening on the other side of the wall. It's like, by putting up a wall, even a transparent glass one, we have created a barrier that allows us to behave differently to those on the other side and the other side won't notice. Unfortunately, reality is far from that.

People inside think those on the outside are hurrying through and walking past without looking in.

Oh they have better things to do. 

Hah! They are looking at you. They are looking, alright.

Those outside assume that they are not being watched because the insiders are busy with their stuff.

Why would they waste time looking out?

Oh no! They are watching you, as if you can't see them. In fact, those on the 'inside' side of the glass wall are always aware of what's going on in the 'outside' world.

Stand against a wall on the pavement and scratch your bum discreetly. You think no one's watching but I bet half a dozen folks from the buildings around you have seen you do that, through their windows or doors. Some of them may even remember your face.

Suppose you take the glass door away. Everyone becomes more aware. The guys at the Pilates studio, for instance, wouldn't be doing your measurements out where every passerby can stop to look. The pedestrians wouldn't blatantly stare or stop to watch.

What changed? It was a glass wall that disappeared. You could see everything before as you can now. Yet, people's behaviour is different when you remove the imaginary boundary separating two sets of people,