Apr 11th, 2016, 01:01 PM

Connecting in the Age of Disconnect

By Sophia Khatsenkova
Image Credit: Creative Commons
The saying that "eyes are the window to the soul” has been taken to a whole other level.

At first awkward, uncomfortable, embarrassing and intense, it’s hard to keep a straight face when you feel like the person across from you is scrutinizing and judging every detail of yours. Yet that was the goal of the event held on February 13 at the Parc Montsouris in the 14th arrondissement of Paris. It was inspired by the World’s Biggest Eye Contact Experiment organized by the Australian company known as the Liberators International, that was held on October 15th 2015 at the Place de la Republique in Paris with hundreds of people partaking in the event. Since that, one more event in the Luxembourg Gardens was held, attracting approximately 200 people in the pouring rain. Seemingly cursed by the weather gods, the event I attended was held under a gazebo near the lake of Parc Montsouris and had approximately only 30 people in attendance due to the wet and cold weather.

Image Credit: Teresa Segovia

Yet the event went on nonetheless. And the concept of it was simple: pick a stranger, sit in front of them and stare into their eyes for a minute. After the one-minute mark, you can either break the eye contact or continue. You can also hold hands and talk during, but eye contact has to be maintained. The one minute mark is the amount of time needed to "start a silent contact and to enter a sort of meditative state," according Pauline Dearbhail, the organizer of the event. “The goal is to gather as many people so they can connect on a more profound level," she explained, "The eye contact experiment is all about the reconnection of souls and profound exchanges."


The crowd was very mixed, which made the experience even more peculiar. The first person that I attempted to "let into my soul" was a young guy with blue dreadlocks. But after the one minute mark, we decided that we didn't feel much of a connection and we switched partners. The next person was a young doctor who had just moved to Paris from Morocco and wanted to make friends. We talked for a while and then parted ways.  My most intriguing experience, however, was with an older man who claimed to be able to visualize the energy I give off. Right...

Among these attendees, some were here to make friends, others were just curious to experience something new and the rest to have a spiritual moment. Matthieu, one of the attendees, explained that he " wanted to make deeper connections with people.” Laura, a French university student, shared her thoughts on the event: “When we share eye contact, we exchange. You let each other into the other person’s soul and you accept them. And that is beautiful.”

The overall experience is fascinating: how can something so simple be so uncomfortable and yet entrancing at the same time?

The next eye contact event will be held on the Champs de Mars behind the Mur de la Paix on May 22nd starting at 2pm.