Person 7: Jamee

Last weekend I went to Valparaíso with just a backpack, no computer, and no plan.

It was exactly what I needed.

Right away I made a new friend at the hostel, Jamee.

We went out that night and hung out again on Sunday.

We had a great connection and in particular I enjoyed making eye contact with her throughout the weekend.

Before we parted ways I asked her to make eye contact with me.

It was so easy. "Not awkward at all," as Jamee said. I agree.

Fascinating! (Letter from a Fan)

"Hi Joshua,

My name is Ron and I took one of your cards from a coffee shop...

I just wanted to say that what you are doing is courageous, and I tend to be an extrovert. What a cool thing to do!

I wish you great success!



How to Ask

"I have a request."

*brief pause*

"Will you make eye contact with me for 60 seconds?"

I like many things about this ask:

1. It's not as abrupt as simply saying "Will you make eye contact with me for 60 seconds?" with no prior intro.

2. It doesn't frame the request as being part of an experiment. I prefer not to refer to this as an experiment, because it makes the action seem less personal and less intimate. Saying it is an experiment also hits at my purpose, and I prefer to not discuss why I am doing this until after they agreed to do it with me, or not.

3. Although it's not a goal of this project to get people to say "yes" to making eye contact, saying "I have a request." first, with a pause, then making the request, puts the other person into the mindset to hear and respond to a request, which I think will make them more likely to say "yes" to it. Without this setup, they may be needlessly surprised by the unusual and bold request.

Person 6: Giulia

Today I am visiting the Museo Nacional de Bellas Artes and Museo de Arte Contemporáneo (MAC) in Santiago, Chile. After looking at all the artworks I stop in MAC Café for a rest and té. Being in the beautiful building and surrounded by artworks is making me feel inspired and I realize/remember/own that I am an artist. I think about my projects and remember this one, LMEC, which has been dormant for months.

The past few days I've been struggling. With being ill, with enthusiasm and motivation, with confidence and awareness, with many things. I have forgotten some of my tools for feeling good, thinking positively. But today in the cafe I remember LMEC and realize that this project is art, my art. It's experiential art, temporary art, performance.

The guy who served me in the cafe speaks English, so I decide to ask him to do LMEC with me. I could ask one of the girls who work here, but I know he speaks English and that will be easier in terms of getting "back on the horse." I am already nervous when I realize that I am going to do this. It's an "old feeling" I realize I haven't felt in a while. Recently I've been re-watching Game of Thrones while I've been home sick, and I recall an inspiring Ned Stark quote about being brave, which I write in my journal, and get up to do this.

But the fellow is gone. In the bathroom, or something. I pay my bill and the girl who helps me speaks some English. I made brief eye contact with her when I walked in, and it was good. She is friendly and seems kind. I ask her if she'll make eye contact with me (in English, and also testing my Spanish) and she says "yes" right away. She asks me what it's about, and I tell her we'll talk about it after.

I set the timer on my phone an we begin. (I'm out of the habit of carrying my the gym timer I usually use for this exercise.) During our eye contact she speaks once, and looks away once, aware of customers entering the cafe. But we continue. We both smile once. I enjoy this feeling, this connection. I forget to note the color of her eyes, or anything in particular, really, because I'm just enjoying this experience.

At least a minute passes. I know it's been longer than 60 seconds and begin to suspect that I set the timer incorrectly. I check it, and sure enough I didn't actually set it.

After the eye contact we talk about it a little, I share with her why I do it. I ask to take her picture and she consents. We exchange names. Her name is Giulia (Julia), she is Italian, and she lives here in Santiago. I give her a card for the blog and we hug when I leave.

A pleasure to meet you, Giulia. Thank you very much for getting me started again. I really needed this.

Person 5: Ting

I was at a cafe in Buenos Aires.

At the table next to me was a girl, who I noticed when she came in after me.

After my beer I left the cafe.

But while walking down the street I knew I had wanted to speak with her, but I didn't.

So I turned around and went back.

I walked into the cafe and approached her table.

I asked her if I could sit down and she said "yes."

I asked her to make eye contact with me an she agreed.

Afterwards we talked for a bit, I took her picture, we exchanged contact info, then I left.

Proud of myself.

Later, we would see each other again when my beer was on tap at a nearby bar.

Person 4: Emily

Full City Coffee House, Palermo Soho, 10 AM

I walk into the coffee shop right as they open, order a coffee, and sit down.

Shortly after that a girl walks in and orders a coffee. I know I have to ask her to make eye contact with me.

I ask her directly and she says "yes" with a tone of uncertainty and perhaps caution in her voice.

I explain the timer and the parameters of the experiment and she confirms that she'll do it.

When she asks me why we're doing this I tell her I'll tell her after.

After our eye contact I explain my motivations. I also make an effort to ask her about her experience. She says she was a bit uncomfortable, especially not knowing how much time was left. She kept thinking about the time. And she just woke up and hasn't had coffee yet so... Well, you know how it is.

She agrees to let me take her photo for the blog. Thanks, Emily!

Persons 1, 2, and 3: Adrian, Josefin, and Nicole

I'm at AurorA, an event inspired by Burning Man, and I figure this is the perfect place to restart Let's Make Eye Contact.

Honestly I've been nervous about doing it here in Argentina. My Spanish isn't very good, and I've been scared to get vulnerable and be uncomfortable by approaching for LMEC interactions where a language and cultural barrier is very likely to be present. The fear in my mind has held me back from jumping into LMEC here in Buenos Aires.

But a festival, especially one where the Burning Man ethos is present, makes it easier.

One of my campmates, Josefin, inspires me to start today. During the conversations we've had I've really enjoyed her eye contact. She's very present, and her eyes are inviting, especially when she's smiling. I want to experience eye contact with her it in a more focused way without the distraction of words.

First I need to replace the battery in my timer and reboot it after almost two months of non-use. Adrian, another campmate, gives me a battery. After I fix the timer I ask him to make eye contact with me. He's game, so we sit down in the grass and do it.

Next I return to Josefin, invite her to participate in the experiment, and she consents. After the timer beeps we talk for a while about eye contact.

Later in the day I ask Nicole to make eye contact with me. She's so cute and I really enjoy the occasional eye contact we've had here at the festival. But she usually has sunglasses on, so I don't get to see her eyes much, and I'd like to see them more. I've also never asked anyone to participate in this exercise with their face painted. I ask her and she agrees to do it.

Now that I've asked three campmates, all of whom speak English, my next step is to take this practice out into the AurorA community and invite participants who are strangers and who may not speak English well.

Welcome to Season 3 - Buenos Aires!

Hey folks, Let's Make Eye Contact is back, this time in South America!

This season will take place in Buenos Aires.

Instead of running for 30 days the season will run until I've approached 30 people.

I'll also probably have to learn how to say the "introduction script" in Spanish.

Otherwise the format remains the same.

Here we go! Welcome to Season 3!

End of Season 2

Season 2 is over! Here are the stats:

Days Elapsed: 30

Days Skipped: 11 (i.e. days on which I did not approach anyone)

Bonus Days: 0 (i.e. days on which I approached multiple people)

People Approached: 19

Day / Night Approaches: 9 / 10

Indoor / Outdoor Approaches: 17 / 2

I mostly approached people in coffee shops. Next was the climbing gym and bars. I also approached two people at home, one while riding a bus, and another at the office.

I was not rejected by anyone I approached.

Noticeably, there were many more days when I did not approach anyone. There were a variety of reasons for this. I got my tongue pierced near the end of Season 1, and while it was healing it was difficult to talk. I was self-conscious of the difference in my voice and that made it more challenging to approach people. I was sick for a few days and didn't make eye contact with anyone during that time. Also, the battery in the timer died and it took me a few days to replace it. Instead of approaching people without the timer, I simply stopped the practice. And for several days I just didn't do it. Either I was too busy or couldn't find the right person or the right setting or just didn't want to do it.

I'm taking a break from the eye contact experiment for a while and intend to pick it back up again in South America.