Thursday, May 31, 2007

Interpersonal Overload and the "Rules of Oggling a Stranger"

Let me introduce you the very first guest on BTVT: If you don't already know who my dear friend Constance Culver is, then I suggest you check her out:'re going to have to cut and paste that until I figure out how to make links

You may have fiured Connie was a poet with her comment on yesterday's blog. She's always had a way with words. And since she is probably my only viewer at this time, I am indeed going to touch on the "Rules of Oggling a Stranger"- hey, isn't it sweeps or something? i need to give my audience what they want...

Connie, I don't have a list of rules yet, but let deconstruct your train ride occurance in the meatime:

While there is no Wikipedia entry for "Staring" or "Oggling" I did come across an entry for "Eye Contact" which led me to the term "Gaze Aversion," which seems like what this boy was trying to do. "Looking at faces is quite mentally demanding. We get useful information from the face when listening to someone, but human faces are very stimulating and all this takes processing. So when we are trying to concentrate and process something else that's mentally demanding, it's unhelpful to look at faces." So says some British Doctor. Which could explain why people (or the fethcing young thing in this case) avoid, or are uncomfortable with eye contact. This leads me to my next bit of research

It is possible you and this lad were subjects of a sociological phenomenon called "Interpersonal Overload." It turns out there are several studies where sociologists have observed the eye contact between strangers on trains. It turns out that strangers on urban trains are far less likely to make eye contact than those on suburban trains. "Gaze Aversion" is merely a method of adapting to one's urban environment.... basically, urbanites avoid too much eye contact in order to thwart off chronic headaches trying to focus on too many faces in one day....

In your case, I wish I could rule out the possibilty that this guy was "overloaded," How could anyone avoid your cute little face standing out against the sea of New Yorkers? How ever, there is too much evidence to support the theory.

Like I said, Connie, I don't have a list yet. While eye contact may be overwhelming or intimidating, it is still necessary for landing those "fetching young things" But, perhaps there is a better approach to oggling, in case you ever happen to be on a very long train ride back into the city

Stay tuned.....

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