I was thinking today, as I walked along the canal towpath at lunch, how much of our animal instinct we’ve retained. Perhaps that’s not the correct way to word it…it’s more that there is so much that is unspoken that we understand on a subconscious level. Stoke-on-Trent, as anyone who lives here knows, is not the safest and most beautiful of cities. It’s a bit unnerving to walk under bridges and down deserted pathways, because much of it is just not safe (as in any large urban area). I find that I avoid meeting the eyes of passersby, just as I would if walking down a street at night in New York. In the village where we live, in comparison, I feel safe; I meet people’s eyes and smile or say hello. I know a lot of the shopkeepers; they call me love or petal or flower. It’s nice. Here, however, it’s a bit like encountering an aggressive dog – you don’t stare directly into their eyes to avoid initiating an aggressive response. In New York or Los Angeles you never wanted to really make eye contact with anyone, because if they were a nut, you didn’t want them focused on you.
I just thought it was interesting. Body language and eye contact, all subconscious, non-verbal communication.
4 thoughts on “Like A Mammal”
You should TRY making eye contact when you’re shopping…I do when we’er out shopping and it’s busy – I’ll make direct eye contact with anyone walking towards me, and you’ll often find they’ll both shy their eyes away, AND move to the side…it’s very effective, especially as you won’t let me kick people (or run them over with the trolley) when we’re shopping…
*laughs* I do that too, Most people look away quickly, some smile as if they think they should know you, I don’t think I have ever had a bad reaction. Although when I go into Cambridge you get used to just pushing and shoving at times, especially at bus stops, we have alot of european students here and none of them has ever heard of the concept of a queue.
Does the cautionary growl come under this heading? I mean cuz that’s exactly the noise I make first thing in the morning when I enter my company’s building and make my way to my desk. *giggle* It’s true I tell ya!
I used to be a big direct gaze avoider. Then I kindof did an experiment in university to see if I felt safer looking people in the eye, especially when trapsing around campus after dark – I did. And I’ve kept with it. There are a few exceptions – if I feel the person is a nutter, after dark -a group of drunken folk, any group of men together, and the odd person that I feel might be weird. In some cases, I get out my ‘don’t fuck with me’ look instead of just a normal ‘meeting eye gaze’. (ie look more fucked up than them!) *heehee*
It does work – it’s a total dominance thing…you can make direct eye contact with some really big blokes, and if they look away you know you’ve got the upper hand…