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2010 November 10

STARE vb : to look or gaze fixedly, often with hostility or rudeness.

“Don’t stare please, it’s extremely impolite”, she snarled. “Oh, I’m terribly sorry madam. I’ve told her countless times but please understand my child’s intentions are nothing untoward… in fact quite the contrary. It is, actually, a sense of curiosity that she possesses; a carnal interest imbued by the innumerable number of visual appearances exhibited throughout existence in this – anything but banal – humansphere of ours, is all” replied the primary care-giver, in haste, and defence.

Confused by this strangers sudden moroseness and the now piqued expression of a loved one, the child’s stare quickly ebbs from its naturally desired gaze and shifts into an act of uncontrollable quagmire – darting back and forth between the now darkened scene of violation and a solemn strand of hair that had somehow wedged itself upside the plastic window pane.

Why, I ask. What invokes this feeling of discomfort, this awkward disposition among our being, when there are in fact other regions where we – humans – have nurtured this very act to now reap the benefits of a rather complex, yet brilliant, method of non-verbal communication.

Given the opportunity – say hidden behind a pair of dark shades for example – generally, we do like to stare. It’s enjoyable and quite edifying to inspect and discover. Yet, remove the mask, and we’re immediately faced with a situation of confrontation, a moment of uncertainty that we’re really not sure how to handle. Which is incredibly strange really. For a species of such intelligence, why have a majority not yet been able to take command of this form of communication. In fact the ability to comfortably engage in this behaviour actually appears to be growing weaker.

Of course there are many types of stare-viations amidst this language – like the good and the evil for example; two forms that often require no translation and actually give merit to its obvious communicative powers. However, it seems it is with the many in between that the problematic mystery still remains. Particularly with those that do require the recipient a need to wonder the translation, alone. “Umm, why does this guy keep staring at me?” “Is it curiosity, amorous, pejorative, admiration, attraction, contempt, or perhaps just a case of intense concentration and no intended interaction at all?” “Shit, this is making me nervous.” would be a common script.

So what creates this inability to maintain comfort under a watchful eye? Is it the result of an antediluvian societal formula we’ve grown to trust, perhaps, or does it in fact pertain to an individual’s general state of equilibrium, cynicism, pessimism or painful insecurities. Which again, could all be attributed to the former. Or maybe we’re just naturally raised as spies… furtively pillaging visual stimulant from an unsuspecting candidate – an entertaining experience that’s often tarnished by inoculated feelings of guilt and intrusion anyway.

The reality is that society teaches our young a mentality and practice of not to stare and that this action is rude, which in turn renders it quite a difficult act to develop and perform naturally. Yet, in direct contrary to this, it also instills on us the ‘please maintain eye contact’ requirement preferred during ‘adult’ interactions – esp. in business/employment. Which, consequently, could in fact prove vital for determining the path to ones future. A difficult contradiction of inculcated mannerisms we’re made to overcome, I guess.

In conclusion to an inconclusive splash of thought, I do wonder if an archaic, yet simple, solution to mitigate this ‘uncertainty’ could be to just offer a smile.

It’s both amiable and also a fair exchange for the taking of visual goods, I would have thought.

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