Are you afraid to look at them?
Children do it naturally
In our banishment from Eden, as we become attached to looking good to others, we give up that simple sense of freedom and curiosity to look at others and, especially, to look into their eyes.
One thing I love about children is they will look at me. I am curious about them and they are curious about me and we express it openly and innocently. This is generally not so with adults, that is anyone past the age of six or more.
Some of us are okay with looking at those we are in conversation with or we know closely. But what about looking at strangers passing on the street? What about looking at others in the restaurant sitting around you. What about looking at others who are in a class with you?
Why do we give up this simple joy of connection and curiosity?
I have heard these various reasons.
"I'm afraid they will bother me if I show interest in them?"
"I'm afraid I will make them uncomfortable if I look at them?"
"I'm afraid I will be considered impolite or weird if I look at them?"
"I'm afraid that they will see something inside of me that's important to keep hidden."
I used to avoid looking at people directly
The second and third reasons were the ones that stopped me. Now I am always looking directly at people all around me when in public. Yes, sometimes someone catches my eye, but it is rare. I find it so that we're all inside this bubble that separates us from others.
Is it really unsafe? Taking it point by point...
For myself, I wish more people would "bother me." On rare occasions, when I've had someone become annoying, I did have to choose courage to be more firm to get my enough-for-now message across. For women, they may sometimes attract unwanted sexual attention by doing this and they would need to be prepared to maintain their boundaries.