Weird things like eye contact

How weird is eye contact? We connect with other human beings by looking into their set of two concentric circles situated on their face. There’s nothing else we automatically look for when meeting a person, talking with a person, looking for a person. Our eyes lock on theirs. How do we innately know to make eye contact with people? Why are eyes where we look when we make conversation with people? How can our eyeballs communicate with other humans without saying a word? What’s the significance of eyes and why are they so telling, so powerful, so captivating? 

Eye contact. It’s powerful.  

In conversation, it’s weird if people look too long into our eyes without talking, and awkward or rude if people avoid eye contact while talking. At the same time, doesn’t the appropriateness of eye contact have to do with cultural norms? 

Why do people in love gaze into each others’ eyes? (not saying I have any experience with this)

How can film capture eye contact when the actor looks into the camera? Why does it seem like the Mona Lisa is looking straight into my eyes? And at the same time yours. And his. And hers. (seriously, paintings creep me out sometimes because it’s like they’re making eye contact with every single person in the room simultaneously)

Eye contact. We make it with people across a room. And sometimes even from dozens of yards away we immediately know when we’ve made eye contact with someone! How is that?! We aren’t even close enough to see their eyes. It’s like we’re saying, “Oh hey, I see you seeing me. We see each other.”

Sometimes my dog makes eye contact with me. We make it with people sitting right next to us. But be careful: the closer you get to someone (in proximity) the more intense and meaningful eye contact gets. Why is that?

Eye contact can almost feel like an invasion of privacy or like someone is trying to say something if it’s too long without knowing someone adequately. So then does some sort of relationship with a person need to precede any kind of eye contact longer than, say, 7 seconds? What is the acceptable second-range of eye contact with strangers? 

How about when you awkwardly keep making eye contact with strangers in the same room? That gets real weird real quick.

What about blind people? No one is ever quite sure how to look at their eyes when we make conversation with them because there is no eye contact. 

Eye contact isn’t looking at something, it’s like looking into something. It’s active.

Eye contact. Why do people avoid making it with homeless people they pass? Or with strangers we cross paths with on the sidewalk? Because it’s powerful, because it connects us as people for that split second? I don’t know.

Or when people have weird eyes and you can’t quite tell if they’re making eye contact or just kind of looking at your eyebrows? On that note, how do we know which eye to look at? Is it possible to look at both eyes at the same time? Or just one? Or do we go back and forth between them? 

The questions could go on! Eye contact. Don’t be unamazed by the wonder of ordinary things!

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