Have you ever noticed when people walk that many of them are constantly looking down? Whether walking on the busiest street in New York or the most abandoned road in a small town in Louisiana, looking down is a common occurrence in people’s body language.
It’s almost as if they have a security blanket, protecting them from the evil onlookers who are quick to judge their every action. Why do we do it? Is it fear? Protection? What are we looking at?
As I was walking today, I intentionally forced myself to look up as I walked along. I’d like to think of myself as a pretty confident guy, but I literally had to force myself to keep my eyes looking up.
Part of me has always been scared to look up. Scared of making eye contact. Scared of looking at someone the wrong way. Scared of thinking the wrong things.
During my middle and high school years, I was able to quickly walk through the halls of my school buildings. My intuitive tunnel vision kept me looking forward, focused on no one person, but instead on getting to where I was determined to go.
This innate tunnel vision is also one of the reasons I don’t like listening to music when I walk. Music seals away my over-analytical thoughts and creates for me a world that no one is allowed to enter, with my head in the downward position of course.
So today, music playing in my ears, I began to look up. And what I saw was life itself before my eyes. I saw friends, couples, random individuals going here and there. What I also so was my own loneliness or division I had with those I passed by as I walked. Looking down created a space of isolation. By Looking up and engaging with the world around me, I was forced to see what was before me and realize someone else who I didn’t know was near or in my bubble.
I used to do the same thing on snapchat and other recordings. When telling stories, I’d look away. Almost as if someone was watching me. It’s the same thing I do at the mall or at parties, the whole play on your phone to do what? Look down. Walking around campus? Look at a book or your laptop to look down.
Out of curiosity, I asked someone why they look down when walking and he answered to avoid speaking to people and saying “hi”.
Have we become disinterested in the world or people? I actually think it’s the exact opposite. Social media has allowed us to pseudo-connect and create virtual friends we can’t even say hey to in person. But, we don’t have to succumb to this type of behavior and looking down. There’s so much to see. So many people to meet. So much to enjoy and experience.
It’s still a bit unsettling (not normal) at times, but that’s natural with doing anything you aren’t comfortable with. Embrace yours and others’ outward expression. Look up!
P.S. Smiling is a whole other thing. Lol.