If you knew people were watching you, would you do things differently?
How the feeling of other people watching me caused an unexpected improvement in my driving style after I’d fitted a windscreen camera to my car.
Here is the backstory
I recently installed a windscreen mounted camera in my car. You know, just in case there’s an incident I have some video backup.
Here’s my big caveat. I’m a big believer in anti-censorship. Despite recently publicised requests, by various public organisations, I’m not about to take any footage and submit it to authorities to then have them penalise what I consider to be the bad driving of others. It’s my subjective opinion only and it’s the thin end of a very fat wedge. I might deplore stupid behaviour by others but I must acknowledge their right to do it; behaving stupidly is their choice after all. Actual accident evidence is all I am interested in.
I tell a small lie here. Being only human, I might well keep and distribute video of meteor showers, unicorns, space ships, rainbows, ghosts, etc…
So, all that said, the first time I went out in the car with the camera fitted I noticed something very strange.
I noticed my own driving had improved significantly. Now I’m obviously a world-class driver and significantly above average (as we all are I’m sure) so I don’t mean the actual driving technicalities improved but I noticed I was being much more polite and courteous than normal. As I’m being totally honest here, I was also following road signage to the letter and being extra careful with my speed too.
A curious occurrence indeed and one which demanded some reflection and deeper analysis.
My “people watching me” explanation
I examined quite a few scenarios and finally realised the answer.
Subconsciously, I’d taken on board the fact that if I had a camera watching other people drive, it stood to reason that other people might have cameras watching my driving.
In effect, I was asking myself how my driving would look to others. Would I be embarrassed if I watched the footage of my driving played back to me? Would I be happy if the world were to see the footage?
These are actually very powerful questions. If all drivers were more aware of the camera concept would driving behaviour improve? Perhaps. Perhaps not. I certainly can’t hurt in my opinion.
Let’s take this “people watching me” idea a step further
Interestingly, one can take this “What if people were watching me right now?” question and concept further and apply it to other behaviours.
In a conflict situation for example, would you be pleased or appalled if your behaviour and language were to be made available to all? Is your cool lost far too easily? Are you a bully? Do you fold too easily? Would the fact that you thought people were watching your actions help you retain your cool adult demeanour and force you to adopt more effective influencing styles? I think it might.
What can you do differently?
The next time you’re standing in a long supermarket queue, a traffic jam or some other sub-optimal environment, consider how you would look on playback. Would you like a big screen telly showing your behaviour? If the whole community was watching you would you be comfortable with your behaviour? Try to be more mindful and adopt a patient, more relaxed mindset. The queue won’t move any faster and the situation won’t change any faster but you’ll be in a much better state when it does finally improve. Give it a go.
My driving has remained greatly improved so the camera will stay put for now – for accidents and miracles only of course.
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