Eye contact – a smile – a double dog dare


Small things like, hello, eye contact, and a smile are become lost arts.  I’m both shocked  and appalled.  I want to spout, “What’s this world coming to?”  It’s like I’ve gone from hip and cool, a younger generation in-crowd member to old-fart in the blink of an eye.

But the facts remain… these things are slipping away and I see it more and more every day (and I dont get out nearly as much as this implies) but it scares me enough to get out my Mom’s soapbox and stand on it again and again.

It’s back to school time, and we are in Day 3 of our first week.  It feels like WEEK three for all the stress it brings into our home.  I cant share the WHY’s of that stress… but I can share the challenges I have posed to my kids this week…  of which I have loved hearing the stories coming back home from it.  I am proud as a peacock of these 3.  It’s not easy to be a teen or heck, and adult these days.  So when your family faces some major things head on and get back  up and do another day… my heart is humbled and I pray they have the faith to reach their goals and take baby steps up onto the big bold ones this week.

My house has not been overly loved by all in it for how backwards we are.  We don’t do TV during the school week except for the news in the morning (because the kids have morning sessions that discuss the morning news going on in the world) and we haven’t yet given our kids cell phones of their own yet.  I am very much out of favor about that one.  But before you find me an old meanie… it’s simply because I want my kids to learn how to be a human and have social interactions in a real world before handing them something that will suck their brains into it and stunt their growth without the firm base of knowledge.  Don’t worry – my daughter already knows her 14th birthday will bring her the “right” to own one.  Those rights will have provisions and stipulations.   Ah – the real world will come to live here even with virtual world a push button away.

Here’s what I mean…

I am given the finger at least once during a short visit with most members of ANY generation younger than mine. “The finger” – yes, that even has changed.  It used to mean flipping someone the birdie, a NOT nice gesture of the middle finger.  Now it’s the index, or pointing finger, held up in your general direction – as if the person whom time is being  actually SPENT with is a child in need of shushing or pausing their conversation.  Then, the finger holder will place said finger on a cell phone and begin texting away… and this is repeated over and over and over during the course of REAL conversation during a REALTIME face-to-face interaction or meeting.  There is precious little eye contact during said conversation in the real world, as they are looking for incoming texts and then share knowing smiles in the direction of their phones that will never be seen by those it’s aimed at.

Out in the “real world” however, the same finger pointers will have trouble making eye contact longer than a few seconds.  It’s like they don’t know what to do with themselves.  They don’t smile automatically when someone comes by and says Hi, either.  It’s something that needs to be taught over and over working in the food, and retail industries.  Often the results are awkward and forced.  The smile is aimed at the floor, not a person, and they say hi to the floor.  It’s because it’s not from the heart and it truly isn’t real.

Now that you’ve heard my rant – here’s how it applies to my household…

My back-to-school mantra this year was simple.  I had three challenges for each kid, depending on where they naturally were on the scale…  I have introverts and extroverts  mingling as siblings.  The same three ideas were the same however… and they were this:

1. If someone says Hi or smiles at you, smile back.  (you don’t even have to say anything.  Just a tiny small smile AIMED in their direction will be enough.)

2. Make eye contact.  If someone is talking to you, force your eyes to look at them and hold the conversation’s attention.  (nod along with it as the conversation lends itself – if you want to be super awesome!)

3. Smile at someone else.  Maybe try someone you cant find words to talk to, who no one has said hi to, someone who NEEDS a smile aimed their direction.

#4(Extra Credit)  Smile and say Hi BOTH at the same time.  Choose someone no one is talking to and needs a smile today.

I am not sure how all this ended up being second nature to me, and why I tend to be one of those people who can walk into a grocery store, knowing no one, and end up having a conversation and having smiled at 40 others while in there and had wordless conversations the whole time.  My head is always up, aware.  I see a hurting world though.  So many have heads bent in speeding through their list, in avoidance, in pain, in isolation, and just to shut out contact and interaction.

I wonder what the world would be like if we all took the challenge I set to my kids this week?  What if we all took the time to just make eye contact?  What if we took it one step further, and said Hi?  What if we all wanted extra credit and we did both and aimed it at someone who really needed to hear it today?

Double dog dare you…  :-D

PS – Meet Kori and Doogie, two rescue pooches adopted from the local shelter … and they are my “double dog dare” duo :-)

6 thoughts on “Eye contact – a smile – a double dog dare

  1. I move from Arizona to Oregon, Portland to be specific.In AZ everyone kept their head down and you never ackowledged anyone else. Since moving here, I’m always surprised when people don’t smile, nod or say hi back to me on the street. I like it here more because of that, and the weather is awesome! :)

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    • I could never move to a place that lives in their own world, or eye contact is seen as an aggressive act. God never intended that when He designed it. I am glad you are on the good side of the fence and awesome weather to boot! I keep saying Indiana has been channeling AZ all summer. Been an odd odd year. Thanks for poppin by!

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  2. I think people are afraid to be friendly anymore–thinking it might be taken the wrong way. I’ll continue to stick to my old fashioned smiles nonetheless.

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  3. I remember a day several years ago when I was feeling very depressed. I needed to get out of the house and I went to the mall. I ended up sitting on a bench, frowning, looking miserable. A young guy made eye contact with me and gave me a big smile. I knew his intention was to make me smile too–and it worked! I smiled back at him and I felt better. I’ll never forget him or what his smile did for me. :)

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    • Thanks for this wonderful story of a simple smile…and it’s power. — I remember I once smiled at a cashier and said “Thank You” when we were done; made her pause her busy hands as she handed my last bag to me, and looked her in the eye… she teared up and held my gaze and said… “YOU are welcome.” I have no idea how her day was or went from there – but I hope that moment sticks in her mind like yours does.

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