Faces are here to be looked at. Even better – to be smiled at.

That might seem like stating the obvious, but so often people avoid face to face contact.

On public transport or in crowds people avert their eyes or look down. Anything but make eye contact.

(Oi cheeky! They’re not just trying to avoid making eye contact with me either. It’s everyone.)

When I was a boy in Belfast, catching the eye of a stranger was tantamount to challenging them to a fight. Ever been asked the question: “What are you lookin’ at?” It’s not a good start to a conversation.

Bike baby face, Cambodia – by the excellent Stephen McCurry. Click on the pic to get to him.

But constantly guarding against making that human contact is no way to live.

So I didn’t.

And the exchanges that ensued- not all friendly – honed my powers of persuasion. (Persuading bigger people not to clobber me.)

And I still don’t live that way.

So I’ll still – maybe foolishly – walk through groups in between me and where I’m going and look the individuals in the face. Rather than go round them or keep my head down. (Unless they’re clearly armed or already running amok – I’m not totally bonkers.)

For to do otherwise would be to surrender to fear, to expect the worst and to diminish our shared humanity.

I realise that behaving in this way may be easier for me than someone less steady on their feet.

But I haven’t been punched in the face by a stranger just lately. So it’s going… you know… fairly well.

[This has been a post on the topic of faces for the Loose Bloggers Consortium. To find out what the rest of them have to say, scroll down the right hand side of the screen to their links. If you can face it.]



Filed under D - Loose Bloggers Consortium

17 responses to “Faces

  1. I am reading you loud and clear alright Paul….great blog as usual.

  2. I catch the eye of strangers all the time because I just like looking at other people – appearances are so different and so fascinating. Nobody’s ever asked me what I’m looking at me or squared up for a fight, thankfully. Some people even smile at me if I’m looking particularly happy.

    Not advisable in some other places though. Passengers on the New York subway never look at each other, either to respect each other’s personal space or because they don’t want to start anything.

  3. I agree wholeheartedly Paul although to be honest I have on occasion been guilty of plodding along headdown and oblivious to the world.

    • blackwatertown

      Me too – while reading a newspaper. No problem with lamp posts – because the newspaper acts both as a crumple zone and an early warning system.
      Bollards however. They’re the worst. Nasty.

  4. I’m one of those people who tends to avoid eye contact, partly because I grew up in New England, partly because I’m an introvert, and partly because I always turned bright red when some one would call attention to me by asking, “What are you looking at?”

    But as you say, it’s no way to live and I do work at being more open. And I applaud your refusal to be governed by fear!

  5. I like to make eye contact with all faces that I possibly can, even if only fleetingly. I guess that I present a harmless face as I have not yet been assaulted or challenged by anyone.

  6. Good for you, HH. You’re right, avoiding others is no way to live. When I’m out and about, I not only make it a point to look at others, I always smile. One never knows how much that could mean to another.
    Blessings ~ Maxi

  7. I always make eye contact. And smile. I am intensely curious as to others. And their body language says so much. Also as a former runner and often at night, eye contact is extremely important.

  8. I look people in the eye, smile and say hello. Most times I get a positive reply. You have an infectious and mischievous smile and I look forward to meeting you soon again.

  9. Yep, I’m a bit of a ‘you remind me of someone’ conversation starter. But you’re right. I often catch the citibus express into town and everyone is sitting there with their ear buds in or talking on mobile phones rather than engaging in conversation with the person they’re sitting next to. Very odd. Fortunately, where I work everyone seems to be an eye contact smiler. Rather refreshing actually

  10. I have firmly decided the best way to survive in my part of the world is to avoid eye contact especially if the potential eye contact is with male recipient. Otherwise unwanted and thoroughly obnoxious attention is attracted and is usually taken to mean you are looking at them with “come to bed – immediately – eyes.” This can lead to all manner of unsavoury problems and sometimes downright aggressive behaviour when they are firmly rejected. So! I stride down the road with the eyes front Alpha-Female glaring eyes look and dare anybody to cross me!! Working well so far…and avoids the classic teeth smashing lampost collisions – been there, done that, got the t-shirt…and the massive dentist bill! Yup..eyes front – don’t mess with Wolfie! It works everytime!!
    Oh…and I do like that wall 🙂

  11. 29

    Was it Robert De Niro in Taxi Driver who, rather threateningly said, “You lookin at me?” More colloquially it is put as, “Who do you think you’re looking at?” So, avoid eye contact with groups of young men with rottweillers, young women who might take it amiss or even aMrs, children unless you are accompanied by your wife. That narrows the field but it still leaves the elderly, babies in prams and nuns.
    Re poles and bollards, I have had experience of both. The first as an 8 year old enjoying the Dandy and walking into a trolley bus pole… the crumple zone did not work for me; the second many decades later threading my way at speed through a city-centre crowd and making contact with a not quite waist high iron bollard, painful even to think about it now.

  12. I usually try not to look at people’s faces too much, but occassionally in school, people used to stare. Maybe not at me in particular, but they stared in my direction, so I would stare back until they realized they were staring and looked away. I’m kind of passive aggressive sometimes.

  13. Fantastic items from you, man. I like what you’re saying and the way through which you are saying it.
    You are making it entertaining and sensible. Looking forward to more from you.

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