Gaze into the Past

“We never see eye to eye, Brit,” my Mother told me all the way to her death in the family lunar estate last year. I never quite understood that favorite phrase of hers, since no one sees or looks the same way others did in the past. She once told me there was a time when looking directly into someone’s eyes was the most honest, harsh, and human interaction possible, supposedly akin to gazing into each other’s souls.

 

“We never see eye to eye, Brit.” I guess not, mother. We don’t even look in the same direction as others nowadays, let alone see them. Seeing, looking, they’re now fortunately the most individual trait of humanity.

Thank goodness! I’m so grateful to be born ina na era without awkward looks with strangers when out in public. No more accidental glimpses of hunger, rage, envy, joy, lust, shame, empathy, suffering, or hope. What a relief. No more privacy-stripping gazes at the store or while walking on the street. I hardly go out as it is – there’s something dauntingly overwhelming about open, freed spaces. If I had to deal with the looks of others, with looking at others, I’d live an even more private life on my own.

Sure, men still state at my ass and chest; I peek at their assets too, and that’s not bad in itself. We’re all human still after all.  But when that happens, they’re seeing just a butt and some tits, glorious as they are, but they’re not seeing me. There’s no pressure with their gaze. That way I’m free to keep my gaze to myself and to my trusted I-Z device, my portable electronic window to the world.

It took two generations and about ten billion enhanced-reality personal gadgets to cover the world-population market, but at last humankind accomplished a marvelous feat – we didn’t have to look at each other anymore. We don’t look at the same things either, or share a perspective side by side with anyone. Rather, we only have to look at the screen of our preferred device, with the certainty that it won’t judge us or penetrate us with a gaze. Screens are so much more respectful than people…

With such a massive paradigm shift, humanity reached its due evolutionary pinnacle as a species: each of us would then on be entirely on our own. We still form families and band in communities – that’s what social media has derived and there’s no escaping it – but now we’re spared the burden of seeing eye to eye. Heck, we don’t even dare look at the same thing as everyone else. You can look at the screen on the palm of your hand or your bio-glasses and get your custom-filtered perspective of the world, free from having to share it with others.

Philosophers, politicians, and pundits all celebrated this as a triumph for true individuality and the true death of even the slightest hint of interpersonal physical collectivism. Instead of belonging to a mindless crowd in the darkness of a movie theater, we now sit in comfortable uni-cubes and enjoy having the movie in our hands – literally and metaphorically, for we can skip and remind and nit-pick the story as we please with our gadget of choice. Freedom from exposure trumps freedom of expression. Instead of struggling to experience pleasantly a concert amidst its loudness and crowding hassles, we attend just to record it for later delight in a much more personal environment and convenient time. Instead of being at the mercy of nature’s whim, we can capture any crappy sunset and view it with picture-perfect filtration. Even teachers don’t have to invade the personal space of students in order to point things out on materials or books – how outdated. Students are free to just listen to instructions and explore and discover on their own all the teaching available to them, without disgusting supervision or violating oversight.

The follies of love belong to the past as well, for with our I-Z devices there’s nothing to be blind about. And sex… that works best with eyes closed anyway or left between your own self and what you see on the palm of your hand.

With our I-Z devices, our worldview has become uniquely ours, of each of us, shapes as we see fit. We humans outwitted with technology our trait of following each other’s gaze, and thus we overcame our deepest flaw: a common outlook. We don’t need others to see more of the world – there’s simply no pluralism to improve upon. We are commonly unique because with our I-Z devices we can’t look the same.

“We never see eye to eye, Brit.”

You were totally right, mother. I see that now.

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