Participant observation or “sociological stalking”?

A psychotherapist tells a story about observing, interacting with, and being blessed by  a woman in Mexico and calls what she does “sociological stalking.”

A couple of thoughts:

1. Stalking clearly has negative connotations so why use this term? If you talk to people about using Facebook, “stalking” is crossing the line from simple observer, which you are supposed to do on Facebook by reading the news feed and interacting with information others post, to an aggressive observer who looks at too much. And since this story has a happy ending, can’t we replace the term “stalking”?

2. In sociological terms, this is more like participant observation than nefarious stalking. On one hand, you want to observe to understand better why people do what they do. On the other hand, you end up interacting with those they observe, sharing in what they do with the hopes that the participation helps provide new insights. Put together, you get both the insider and outsider perspective.

3. Here is the summary made about the benefits of observing:

Sometimes, when in doubt, just observe. It is a fine remedy for assumptions, bias, judgments, and the angst that can accompany living. It is also a fine remedy for spiritual bank accounts.

In other words, observation can help take the focus off yourself, see the world in new ways, and involve you in the lives of others. I wonder if taking the time needed to truly observe and also the skills required to figure out what is really going on are lost arts.

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