The Power of your Eyes
The Power of your Eyes
  • Dahyun Lee
  • 승인 2019.12.26 16:31
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Dahyun Lee (British International School Ho Chi Minh City)

When was the last time you had a conversation with a person who actually looked into your eyes? Certainly I can’t remember when it was. Most people avoid my gaze when I look at them in the eyes. This even includes the most intimate people in my life: my friends and family. Whomever we talk with, we tend to look somewhere else; somewhere that would conceal yourself from others; somewhere that wouldn’t meet others eyes; and I think that the lack of eye contact could be the reason for the recent increase in social problems among young people.

There is an old saying that the ‘eyes are the window to one’s soul’; and that is true. Eye contact or even using your eye in order to see different objects around the world can easily change your perspective about different matters. About 10 years ago, eye contact was a common event that many people thought was necessary in making new relationships. I remember when I was 8, I rode a bus with my parents; and people sitting near us asked questions trying to start a conversation. They asked my age, talked about the weather; and sometimes if we had more time, politics was a common topic. This conversation normally went on until one person had to get off the bus. Also, asking for guidance was very common; and people who asked for such guidance will continue small pep-talks as an act of thanking the person who helped them. Sometimes these small talks will lead to long-term relationships such as best friends or even as a family, meeting their significant others. 

But, smartphones messed up everything.

Now, have you taken a bus or a subway recently? What do you see when you ride them? Faces looking down at their smartphones: texting, calling, or playing games. No one seems to be interested in you and no one talks to you. Even among the most intimate people there is a sure lack in communication. In restaurants, families eat while looking at their phones or checking their phones; in cafes people are either taking photos or looking at their phones. Some even text each other across the table! Another devastating effect of phones can be seen in classrooms. Stepping into the classroom, friends wave at your arrival and quickly return to their phones. Texting other friends even when they have you right in front of your eyes. What if you or your friend is going through some hard times, or have something to talk about? How would they throw in their personal hardships when none of us are sharing ourselves? And how would you even notice; when you never look at them?

According to the U.S. News, over 60% of students feel isolated from their peers. While some of us believe that physical human connections are unnecessary in a world of global communication, the research proves otherwise. This research shows that one of the aspects a smartphone can’t overcome is the physical aspect such as eye contact. Meeting each other and saying “Are you okay?” has more value than texting the same message. We somehow, without thinking, know that this is true; for when you need to talk about more important matters you say, “I’ll speak to you in person” or “I’ll tell you when we meet”, not texting each other about the important matter. 

This shows that we know about the power of talking face to face. However simply meeting each other won’t be enough; you need to look into their eyes. In a conversation, talking eye to eye can change the atmosphere. Saying “I love you” looking at the floor is not as effective as saying the same looking at each other’s eyes. You might say that smartphones are for people to express more of their emotions without having to be shy; for it is difficult, or even awkward, to stare into each other's eyes. But once you start, you will see the difference in it.    

I try to draw people in real life when I feel the need to have a true conversation. When I draw others’ eyes, I have to look at their face closely; and as I do so, I get to see more specific details in their faces. For example, the age lines and sagging eyelids of my grandparents, the unexpectedly long eyelashes of my friends, a strangely positioned dot near the eye as well as the color of their eyes. These sometimes lead to a long conversation. When I was drawing my grandfathers eyes I commented on the similarity with my father which led to a one hour long conversation about my father’s childhood. This not only allowed me to listen to past events but also allowed me to feel more intimate with my grandfather. 

When I was drawing my friend’s eyes I noticed that she put on a different colored eye-shadow and that led to a conversation about her preferences in color. But not only that, I can talk about emotions. For example, many scars on the lip can tell me that this person has the habit of biting their lips. This leads me to ask about what that nervous matter could be. Also, when I start shading, I get to notice many things. Darker and larger eye bags show tiredness, rosier cheeks show excitement. This leads to a different conversation more related emotionally. Sometimes I could give help to distressed people and even sometimes I can congratulate and celebrate an event together. This creates an unexpectedly strong bond between me and my friend. 

Eye connection is everything. Although smartphones have messed up a large part of the current society, I think that it is repairable with some effort. Just a simple effort such as drawing others faces, or trying not to look at smartphones while meeting your friends. You might say drawing others is limited to people with talent, or you might say that there are important information that you need to answer and keep track of your phones. But my main point is not to eliminate phones from the conversation. Smartphones are already deeply entwined with our lives and play an important role in helping people as well. 

However, what I encourage is to decrease the amount of looking at phones during conversations or meals. This is just a small effort that can positively impact the surrounding people. So, it doesn’t really matter if you’re a painter like Vincent Van Gogh, or a person who draws like a seven-year-old. Just grab a pen or brush and sit across anyone you would like to talk to, and start drawing, and you will feel that there is more to talk about than celebrities and tweets.

Dahyun Lee
British International School Ho Chi Minh City

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