The Infamous Downlooker

March 3, 2011
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Down-lookers seem to think that we have a curse, look us in the eye for more than five seconds and you will have bad luck forever! This is absurd, but it seems that some people actually believe it! When this happens, down-lookers either look at their shoes or off into space, and you can hardly tell what they're saying because their voice is so muffled. This is not only annoying, it's downright rude. Looking someone in the eye is a sign of respect, and a way to show them you are actually paying attention to the conversation. Sure, it can be nerve-racking to talk to some people, but even they deserve your respect and attention. I mean, come on people!

This has happened plenty of times to each of us, especially while talking to the opposite gender. The conversation starts out relatively normal, the average "hi" or "hello", and then they find a deep, sudden interest in their shoes or that weird poster showing the cafeteria menu that has been on display for a month. It's like the down-lookers are actually afraid to look at people! I mean, seriously, no one is that scary. For the rest of the conversation you're futilely attempting to understand the constant mumble from the other person, while trying to understand the reasoning behind their downcast face. This happened to me while talking to a guy in my class. We were partnered for a discussion but all that he seemed to be able to do was stare down at my black converse mumbling "um, uh, um" for the next ten minutes! Come on, I'm not a drill sergeant! Was there something wrong with me? Was it something I said? Down-lookers may not realize this, but they make the other person self conscious as well as making themselves seem rather rude. Of course, to point this out mid-conversation is very embarrassing to the down-looker, and might make one seem controlling, impatient, bossy, and almost as rude as the original act of avoiding eye contact! So, because of this, few have ever confronted the person in the act.

In some parts of the world, it is considered rude to look your superiors in the eye, but we are in America people! This is not the custom here! Some people seem more worried about themselves in these situations and probably do not realize their down-looking is bothering the other person. Also, maybe the talker is too bold in conversation, or possibly somehow bothering the down-looker, or this may just be the result of their insecurity. This demon of uncertainty has haunted adolescents since the dawn of time. The endless chorus of "Do I fit in?" and "What are they thinking about me?" rings in the back of our minds sometimes into adulthood. This can be solved by gaining confidence and getting involved. Sports and competition does wonders for the esteem, and, if you are seemingly un-coordinated, there are other outlets such as clubs and community activities. Do anything to make the down-looker feel good about themselves!

Looking someone in the eye in conversation isn't as hard as it seems. Of course, some people can be quite menacing to look at, but they still deserve your respect. This act plants trust in the person they are talking to, and is harmful to our community if this takes place. If you are insecure, get involved and gain some confidence! People deserve respect and our attention, don't be the down-looker!

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