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Thursday, 17 November 2011

Eye contact (or lack of it)

Have you noticed how people avoid eye contact in the streets these days? Years ago one could walk down the street in any village, town or city in the UK and be sure of saying "good morning" or whatever to anyone walking the other way. Nowadays this is increasingly hard as people seem to want to avoid eye contact. This is less so with older people, who still say a cheery "hello", but with younger people (locked into their iPods and MP3 players) it is increasingly difficult to engage in the social niceties we all took for granted. I find this very sad.

As an experiment, the next time YOU walk down a street see how many people you can make eye contact with and say something like "good morning" or similar. It is not so bad in my own village but I am convinced people are now more "in their own worlds" than even 10 years ago.

I tried this experiment in Stoke Newington, N.London a  few months ago. In walking for 15 minutes in leafy residential roads I managed to get just one grunt from a very surprised Hasidic Jew and one friendly response from an Afro-caribbean man. Everyone else was too busy to notice or just preferred to keep their privacy.

1 comment:

  1. I often think the same thing Roger. Every now and then, it makes my day when I'm able to exchange a greeting or brief chat with someone I pass on the street. When this happens, it occurs to me that such an occurrence was very much the norm, say, 20 years ago.

    There are some basic commonalities we all share as human beings and this sort of simple greeting is an affirmation of that. How hard is it to simply wish a passer-by a good day? I wish I understood why folk don't seem to do this as much these days.