“The surest way to corrupt a youth is to instruct him to hold in higher esteem those who think alike than those who think differently.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche
On the vibrant, sprawling campus of Stanford, everyone seems to be on some teetering center of mass between academics, social events, and sleep, so it’s understandable that some social cues may go unrequited. I’ve been ghosted on a total of six in-person meetings since the start of college, but I guess everyone is an equal opportunity victim of the student body’s notorious “flaking” culture, so no affirmative action reference possible here.
Nonetheless, despite being deeply introverted, my general principle with greeting acquaintances I make in the past have served me quite well. When I notice the presence of a nearby acquaintance, I almost always attempt to make eye contact, and upon reciprocation, greet them.
Ever since I began sharing articles I read on social media, I’ve noticed the decline in the tendency to reciprocate to my initial eye contact, as well as the decline in eye contact initiation. This is direct cause and effect, so I can only infer it is due to the implications of content within articles I’ve shared.
Sure, I may hold opinions that may be slightly contrarian to the liberal, techno utopian progressiveness of Stanford. For example, I’m a fervent supporter of Andrew Yang and have my ethical doubts about big tech corporations, so I frequently post articles on the two topics. Stanford, on the other hand, is a fervent supporter of progressives like Warren/Sanders and is an enlistment ground for big tech companies. I also take warranted interest in topics surrounding the Chinese Communist Party whose reach and influence bakes my own upbringing and that of my family, so I frequently post investigative video links to my favorite YouTube channel on the subject matter, China Uncensored.. International students on campus, on the other hand, are taught to love their country and taught to self-victimize over any counter-narrative to the one paid for in billions by the CCP’s propaganda initiative which they hold as self-evident and essential to their livelihood.
I keep articulation of opinions to myself, this blog, and sincere in-person meetings (the invitations to which have all disappeared) I set up with my acquaintances. I have never tried to push my views onto anyone aside from sharing articles on social media, yet that alone may have posed an existential threat to the cognitive dissonance within the conformist world-views inherited by those in my acquaintance circle.
Do I pose as such a threat that they don’t even dare to meet my eyes for greeting? Do they feel impostor to their own willful ignorance over the subject matter that they hold the unfounded fear I will “expose” them for it, hence would rather allot their attention to those who share memes and Snapchat stories instead?
Perhaps they simply push this entire matter to the periphery of their conscious, and when I pass by them act on the instinct which reflects that decision, and that is to dart their eyes away, walk on in peace, having narrowly escaped what they perceived to be a potential curveball to their convenient interpretation of me built by their own prejudices and biases.
If you’re reading this, are you a fellow acquaintance guilty of the above? Reach out and let me know how accurate my analysis of your behavior is!