Tuesday, January 18, 2011

make eye contact and look away

Back in the city. Art show opening tonight (5PM at the Roundhouse, if anyone's interested), and finishing up the sound for my film tomorrow.

I'm feeling the usual city-sadness and frustration. Try to make eye contact - if someone senses you're looking at them, they'll intentionally look away. Public space in the city is incredibly lonely, sprinkled with rare bits of niceness when you share a laugh with a stranger.

Going over the Cambie Street bridge into the downtown core, I was shocked (again) at how fast this city is growing. You can almost see it expanding. It reminded me of some satellite views over China's coast:

You can actually see the surface of the planet drying up and dying. Road networks look like disease spreading through veins. We dominate nature, make our ultimate priority "human and economic growth", and become a planetary virus.

A bus stops in front of me. It's packed shoulder-to-shoulder with people with blank faces - emotionally "turned off" to deal with the close quarters. A gloomy-looking passenger stares out the bus window, through the coffeeshop window, and sees me. I smile and he looks away pretending he didn't notice.


  1. So true and particularly so in Vancouver.

    I remember the shock I experienced on moving back to Vancouver from Europe where it was normal and expected that when passing a stranger on the street one would say good morning. I would extend the greeting with a smile as I walked through Kitsilano on my way to work and it was met time and again with a flustered inability to respond.

    We have lost the ability to socialize. The people who surround me at work cyber-date exclusively as they all profess their inability to meet others through face-to-face means. Knowing another is now qualified by recognition of their avatar, being "friended" or "linkedIn". Playing with others means sitting alone and searching for low ping multiplayer sessions.

    In it's essence, this is anti-social behaviour and yet it is embraced as the norm.

    So I say, screw that shit. I talk to strangers. I engage individuals whenever I can. I place myself in situations which force me to do so. I relate.

    = Put the xBox controller down and slowly back the fuck away =