My recent project took me to two different malls in the past two weeks, multiple times. Since I was there, I decided to do my own ethnographic study on the population at the malls.
Ethnography, by definition, is a storied, careful, and systematic examination of the reality-generating mechanisms of everyday life (Coulon, 1995).
I was on the lookout for certain trends that I could notice. However, at the same time, I was not expecting anything surprising as such. Apart from people busy shopping, what I observed was many mothers with strollers and managing multiple kids, some aged folks taking walks, and many many youngsters enjoying their time at the mall, this being a summer vacation time here. All of these things is expected and actually quite obvious.
However, the most surprising behavior I noticed was that almost 90% of the people, be it young or old, male or female, were not using their smart phones! The most usage of the phone I saw was people talking on the phone, but no one seemed to surf/play with the smart phone.
Most of the people I observed during my visits were either carrying a shopping bag or a purse, and were busy interacting with whom they were with at the mall. Those who were alone at the mall, were busy shopping and sometimes talking on the phone. However, they too were not much browsing their phone. I saw many families happily spending time with their family members, conveniently and very surprisingly forgetting their phone.
So malls remain a “by-choice” smart phone free zone. Will gadgets such as Google Glass and Smart Watches change this?
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