There is a saying that promotes the idea of wearing a smile. Adorn ourselves with an upward curve. It is much like getting dressed thoughtfully. The beauty to this the unknown joy that lays behind the smile. They say it’s contagious. They are probably right. Is it alright to exchange a look of content with a perfect stranger? Perfect stranger, well what makes them so perfect? It seems as if we have become afraid of making eye contact with those we do not know. Perhaps it is one of the more personal ways to communicate but also dating back, eye contact can be a means of intimidation, almost threatening. Not like this though. That weird guy just smiled at me on my way to class. Everyone seems to be locked in their own personal world with ear buds scoring the latest soundtrack to their life. Don’t get me wrong, personal time is good, and I am not so much asking everyone to smile at me on my way to class. However, it just seems that everyone is over anxious and it becomes difficult for many to remain with eyes locked during a conversation. Have we evolved to a nature where humanity is threatening? Is it a danger to share a glance, or to commit to understanding?
I did a test to see what my response rate would be here on SUNY Oswego campus. I walked around with a huge grin on my face as if I had just won the lottery(preferably not the kind where I get stoned to death as a result, but you know the “mega-millions”) and tried to make eye contact with as many people as I could on my travels. The majority remained head down, most with head phones. If there was eye contact, most veered away breaking the contact immediately, as if it happened on accident. To break this norm, there were a few that exchanged this simple hello, this simple exchange or recognition of another breathing person. We are all the same. In the aspect of the university complex we are here to learn. Well, and spend a lot of money. So what makes us so different, so afraid of ourselves?
Don’t talk to strangers. Don’t accept gifts from people you do not know. Look both ways before crossing the street. And God forbid if food falls on the ground –DO NOT eat it. The five second rule is a recent adaption and cannot be trusted. This growing phenomenon of trust issues a fear has gotten out of control. Turn off all of your lights when you go to bed (that is just practical conservatism) and make sure you lock the door. Now you lock the door because you are attempting to eliminate the threat of an unknown visitor entering your home while you are sleeping. However, have you ever been robbed before? Chances are probably not. Do you live in an “unsafe neighborhood”? You might. Regardless, where did this enhanced fear and distrust spawn from? We get home, flip on the tube and are slammed with everything from house fires, rapes, murders and robberies. Real colorful stuff there and I won’t deny that. Now statistically with the billions of people that inhabit this earth the chances of these events affecting you are slim. It’s a chance. Chances we attempt to eliminate.
So how does locking your door at night out of routine and watching the oh so frightening news affect the ability to maintain eye contact or smile? Very simply, I think we have grown to be a culture that is absolutely terrified of the unknown, miserably so. We have become so anxious and there has been a serious drought of depth and content. We are so mislead and terrified by the option of the unknown. There is no trust to having faith in an idea. We have become the need-to-know/oh-no-you-didn’t society regurgitating the recent true Hollywood story of people we will never meet. I like how when typing this on Microsoft Word, it automatically corrected the lower case ‘h’ in Hollywood. It must be important.
The next time someone smiles at you, don’t read into it so much. Chances are they aren’t trying to hit on you and they probably aren’t creepy. Well, I can’t say that for sure, but most likely not the case. Every day is one step further to that eternal dirt nap. Although life may be the longest thing we ever physically do, it really is such a short time. So instead of being afraid of Everything constantly, share something with someone. Create, explore, travel, and live with the intention for doing nothing more than trying to improve. Improve your life, improve others. You’d be surprised by the response if everything meant a little bit more. Remember a smile goes a long way.