As a college student, I realized that while walking around campus, especially one that is small enough to see many people I recognize, people have stopped making eye contact with each other or stopped to say hello. I understand that COVID-19 has created a separation between people and their interactions, however, it is sad to see the lack of communication it has also constructed. Especially when wearing masks, where eyes are the only things that you can see.
People are so quick to avoid eye contact and pick up their phones. Phones can act as a sense of security, something that is always there for a distraction or excuse. Usually, people are already on their phone, but sometimes they just try to make it look like they are busy doing something instead of taking the extra second to say something.
Honestly, it goes even just when hanging out with friends. There is definitely a healthy balance of comfortable silence, but in the last couple of years, that has just become sitting around and being on each other's phones together. There’s nothing wrong with this, but it just goes to show how much time we spend on our phones, instead of being social in person.
Especially when getting used to returning to in-person classes, having to look other students or teachers in the eyes is now strangely unfamiliar.
“Because of the trend toward home-based and other remote work, people have become accustomed to talking without making eye contact, says Dana Brownlee, founder of Professionalism Matters, a corporate-training company in Atlanta. She cites a manager at a South Carolina financial-services company who started offering prizes to get employees to meet face to face. "People were dialing into meetings from offices that were literally just a few cubicles down the hall," Ms. Brownlee says.,” (Wall Street Journal, Just Look Me in the Eye Already, Sue Shellenbarger, 2013).
However, it’s important to remember that there are so many benefits to making eye contact. It bonds people together emotionally and intellectually when having a conversation. I hope that with more time in-person and less online and remote, eye contact becomes natural again and people take time to stop and make it with each other.