the disruptive powers of eye contact

I remember eye contact.

I remember what it was like in the days before the pandemic, before masks and Zoom calls.

I’ve noticed something has changed about my relationship to eye contact since then, too.

Eye contact used to be something we could take for granted, we thought we understood it. We pretty much made eye contact unless we were avoiding it or there was a reason we could understand (someone is on the spectrum, victim of trauma, afraid, has a physical  reason, etc.) Generally, not making eye contact was the exception, not the rule.

Then came the era of masks – where eye contact was the only facial language we could really use if we were in a public setting in person.

For many of us, much of our business or personal life was conducted on Zoom, Webex, Facetime or Teams. And something strange happened.

Because the cameras in all of our screens are in different places, it’s really tough to make eye contact. In group settings, we don’t really expect to, much like we don’t expect to make eye contact with someone who is on stage.

But one on one? Yeah, it’s awkward. Multiple screens. Camera locations. Blurry or special backgrounds. Plug in cameras. It’s pretty much impossible to make real eye contact.

I’m a real fan of working remotely and connecting to people on video. It makes my introverted, homebody heart feel ease.

But I really notice the impact of the eye contact disruption now that most things have returned to at least have an in person option, because I can’t use it to tell if I trust someone. Historically, it was something I really relied upon.

There’s a guy I work with who rarely makes eye contact. In my interpretation of it, he can’t be bothered to look up from whatever he’s doing or eating to look at me when I’m talking to him. I interpret it as a lack of respect, of self-importance, probably even misogyny.

But what if it isn’t? What if both of us are still trying to adjust to the disruption of the eye-contact-norms? What if I have to look deeper?

That’s not necessarily a bad thing, is it? I guess that’s why disruption (not just disruptive technologies) can be profoundly impactful!

In the meantime, remember these things: You are loved. We are all loved. Let’s all be kind. And in all things – progress, not perfection!

Love and light,

Maggie

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