Watchful flies

Mark lives quite a “fly on the wall” experience seeing through my eyes and hearing through my ears. He gets a front row seat at many scenes in my life — and no one know he’s there.

I enjoy the “fly on the wall” experience too — when I can — as in when I am allowed to. I enjoy what I learn about people as I watch them from a distance without directly interacting with them — and ideally without them realizing I’m paying attention. It’s not that hard really — because most people assume that someone wearing earbuds and staring at a screen is oblivious to their surroundings — and they often act as though you’re not there. And then there are plenty of people who don’t notice me anyway — as long as I do nothing to draw attention to myself.

You might be familiar with a concept in physics known as Heisenberg’s Uncertainty Principle – the idea that the position and velocity of an object cannot both be measured exactly at the same time. Furthermore, attempts to take precise measurements on sub-atomic particles affect the behavior of the particles in unpredictable ways — so you can never be sure what you were trying to measure. If you think I’m not explaining this very well, then Google it yourself — or just bear with me.

I think something similar happens when you interact with people. If you ask someone a question, the response is likely to be influenced by a) who is asking the question, and b) why the person thinks he/she is being asked the question. The response will be filtered accordingly.

Mark and I enjoy getting to know people by watching and listening as they interact with others. We don’t necessarily get to know the details precisely — but over time, a picture of their life emerges — and sometimes we just can’t help caring about them — even though they wouldn’t know us from a pair of flies on the wall.


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