Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Averting the gaze.

I was sitting alone tonight at the Klondike Cafe of Wingate waiting on my food to be prepared.
The room was packed with people and there I was, sitting all alone with my face in my cellphone.
I couldn't help but realize what I was doing and how incredibly sad it was to keep my eyes on my phone in order to keep an awkward eye contact with a stranger from happening.

Even when I did look up, I noticed that anyone who I could have made eye-contact with automatically averted their gaze in an opposite direction. Now, I didn't take this personally because heck, I do the same thing in situations with strangers at night. You don't want to look like a creeper.

But this idea of "averting your gaze" in all social interactions began to really bother me.

Is it so hard to look into the eyes of someone you've never met? Or even someone you do know?

I do this thing all the time where I purposefully try to look into the eyes of passersby and smile. If they smile back, I think that says something about their character. I assume that they would be someone who I would like to associate with. The more I see and smile at this person, the greater chance I have of making a friend.

Friends yielded from this practice are little to none, but I'm still working on it (haha).

Tonight, I realized it is a different thing when I'm not on the move. When I'm sitting alone in a crowded room, the chance of me looking up and smiling at a stranger is scarce. Maybe its because I'm an introvert and groups of large people scare me but maybe it goes to show something deeper about people in general.

Something about looking into someone else's eyes just shows vulnerability, I think. And perhaps being vulnerable is what our society struggles with the most.

Think about it. We are forever in search of the ways that are most comfortable to us. We like to be in the neighborhood with the nicest people, be put in group-projects with the best-behaved of the bunch (at least I do), sit with all our friends at lunchtime...
Even technology has created an avenue to escape vulnerability. I mean, the cell-phone is like the vulnerability shield of our generation.
Riding an elevator with someone you don't know = look at your cellphone.
Awkward conversation turning to silence = look at your cellphone.
Crowded room full of people waiting on food = look at your cellphone.

In ways, we are isolating the people that need interaction the most. It is a proven sociological and psychological fact that we all need to socialize in order to develop. Why is it that we have isolated ourselves from continuous development at an older age?

If a baby stuck it's head in a cellphone every time someone looked at them, it would literally become mentally disabled. Socialization is just THAT important.

(Can you tell that I actually learn stuff in college? haha)

It may sound crazy, but I think if we were all just a little more vulnerable, the world would be a better place.

Lets take a chance, folks. Lets not avert our gazes. Look into the eyes of someone and you might just look into their heart.