I tried an experiment today in the subway. The task was simply this: to look people in the eye when they looked at me.
I found it about as natural and easy to meet -- and hold -- people's gazes as I would to hold my breath in open air for 5 minutes.
I'm not a liar, and you always hear about how not being able to look somebody in the eye indicates insincerity or deception. BUt it is the next thing to physically impossible for me to look someone steadily in the eye. My gaze, 100% of the time, glides away like a swatch of silk glides off a glass dome, settling comfortably on something safe and inanimate (or at least unaware) and non-piercing, just beyond the object of my intended look. It pretends like that's where it meant to go.
Why is this? And do other people -- does everybody -- have this problem/experience? What does it mean? Is it something I should try to work past, or is it natural, socially acceptable, culturally and psychologically and morally desirable behaviour? What can my self-respect make of this phenomenon?