Where has the human connection gone?

Senior Aysha Peterson (left) and Junior John Reiss (right) make eye contact for one minute during the social experiment “Where has the human connection gone?” hosted by the Dharma Lions Team.

The worlds biggest eye contact experience is hosted by The Liberators International in over 140 cities by more than 100,000 people. I had my chance to photograph and participate in State Colleges social experiment.

Senior Aysha Peterson smiles as she participates in the “Where has the human connection gone?” social experiment in front of the Allen Street gates Oct. 15, 2015

The purpose of this event is to engage in a moment of meaningful human contact with yourself and others on a deeper level. This is something I believe is so important for people to experience whether its 1 minute or 1 hour.

Senior philosophy major Leighton Young looks at his social experiment partner as they make eye contact for one minute in front of the Allen Street Gates in State College, Pa.

Although I was at the Social Experiment to take photos for an assignment. I found myself wanting to participate just by watching the reactions of those who participated. Raw intimate emotion— is what I saw.

Graduate students Moji Shavali (left) and Chrystal Maggiore (right) make eye contact to rebuild a sense of shared humility in State College.
I had a chance to talk with one of the participants above Moji Shavali and graduate student in the Tourism and Management program at Penn State. He told me he took time out of his busy day to try the social experiment. “Personally I’m not happy with people avoiding eye contact,” said Shavali.

Towards the end of my time observing the social experiment I decided to take a seat across from Aysha on a pillow. Our conversation started out talking about her bright purple hair…. it had been blue but she wanted a change. We then sat in silence for what felt like 5 minutes (it was actually only one minute) and just looked into each others eyes. At first it was awkward staring into the eyes of a complete stranger in silence as the people walk by carrying on with their busy days. But as time moved on I felt more and more comfortable. My mind would go from thinking about her and what she thought of me to thinking how disengaged myself and others are sometimes in conversation or just in general life. I left the event desiring more moments like that and I guess thats the point of this social experiment.

Our global society has become thirsty for true connection and this experience allows you to be the change you wish to see in the world by creating an authentic, loving and respectful platform for human connection to flourish in public.