Eye contact. What’s the big deal with eye contact?
I noticed the lack of eye contact between people this last week while traveling to California to visit my first grandbaby. Walking into the airport, waiting around for our plane to take off, everyone was facing down, looking at their phones. Men, women, moms, dads, older folks, teens. Virtually no eye contact or talking amongst each other. Little kids were sitting on the airport chairs next to their parents, looking bored, while Mom and Dad were busy doing something on the phone. The people who I did notice looking around were the elderly. Maybe they haven’t yet caught on to the high-tech world. Maybe their searching eyes were looking for someone to take a moment and smile at them or even to start up a conversation. The quietness of a busy airport seemed a little eerie to me, as I’m sure it did to those elderly and littlest of kids who were left out of “the real world”.
This makes me realize that I want to make the most of my time with family- my husband, my children, now even grandchildren are beginning to arrive. I know that it is too easy for me to get busy on the computer with frivolous things while the kids are around me playing. I can’t count how many times someone has asked me to do something with them and my response is, “Not yet. Wait just a few minutes”.
Now, there’s absolutely nothing wrong with having “me” time: time to unwind, zone-out, but what I’m referring to is when I start wasting time that I will not get back, time that should have been spent on the things that matter.
I believe that people need eye contact to know that they are being listened to, that everything else is placed on hold. I know that I have gotten frustrated when I’m trying to talk, but the other person is busy with something else involving a screen. I want to make sure that I don’t make that same mistake.
Whether it’s a cell phone, computer, TV, or whatever-type-of-screen, I believe these things can be used for good and for fun, but I also believe that they can rob us of relationships. If my kids’ interaction with a screen takes up more time in a day than with me, I have to ask, is that healthy?
Can you count how many times you’ve been to a restaurant only to see that people aren’t looking at each other, but down at their phones? I guess it’s a little more noticeable to me because I don’t have internet access on my phone. It’s simply a track phone. While we were at a Fish-and-Chips restaurant in Half Moon Bay this past week, I noticed that this place seemed different. There was talking, laughing, eye contact. It was a place bustling with life. And then I noticed the sign posted on the wall: “No Cell Phones”. ‘Awesome!’ I thought. The owner of this restaurant knew how to create a place that would be alive and fun. I wonder how many people leave that restaurant and want to go back for the simple pleasure of having an uninterrupted conversation.
Eye contact is important not only for adults, but for children of all ages. I think of babies who are not given the joy of having a Mom or Dad to look into their eyes and smile at them, talk to them. Or a toddler that is not given the acknowledgement they need, so their loneliness turns to frustration and tantrums. Even (especially?) teens- Knowing that Mom and Dad will stop what they’re doing, put everything on the back burner while they share their heart. I bet that even broken, hurting relationships can be mended if the parents make an effort to change the dynamic and atmosphere in the home by having it be more open and encouraging to heart-to-heart talks rather than “screen time”.
These were things that have been on my mind and I wanted to share. I’m not the most eloquent writer and sometimes I ramble too long. Maybe I wrote this for myself- as a reminder of the Mom and Grandma that I know the Lord wants me to be, and of the type of people I want my own children to be when they are adults: Moms and Dads who make the most of every minute. The time is short. May there be no regrets.