μῆνιν ἄειδε θεὰ Πηληϊάδεω Ἀχιλῆος οὐλομένην
Absolutely! Timing is everything,...and I don't have the skills,...LOL! For years,...like 40+ years,...I never understood why people would avoid eye contact with me,...even people I knew. I just happened to be taking a course on non-verbal communication when I learned about this "gaze avoidance" behavior,...deeply seated within our social evolution,...that many autistics simply do not have unless they practice it. Scenario: You are walking down the hallway at work and you see someone you know walking towards you. You look at them,...but then keep looking at them,...and when you finally are close enough to greet them,...they eye avert. WTF!! Frustrated the heck out of me for years. What I didn't realize is this is, unbeknownst to even them,...I was presenting myself a threat,...so they avert their eyes. Well, you do this enough to people and you just come off as a bit "off" and pretty soon they don't want to have anything to do with you. The trick is to not look at them until the last few feet, raise your head, look at them, and greet them at the same time,...if the timing is off,...unconsciously to them, you're a "weirdo". So many other social scenarios where situational awareness, context, and timing is important for "proper" eye contact. I can educate myself on these social rules, but I can't keep track of it all.
This was really eye opening. I do tend to gaze to gather info because I don't get all those non-visual cues people get. I have to see stuff. But you are right!! You have to NOT LOOK till you are right on someone. If you look before that specific space----what----two feet? It is actually scary. Do you know what I have to do? So if someone is up on the sidewalk-----here is how it goes:
1. Alarm goes off because I am in my own world. I might be thinking or doing my special interest and in my own head and now I KNOW I have to do this interaction. If I decided NOT to do it, that is just as bad if you do it wrong. So literally for about three minutes I am off my own mind-track waiting for that interaction. Then THE WAIT.
2. The WAIT. I am on pause in my own head just waiting for that person to get to that sweet spot where we can nod, lift a hand, smile, say "hey" etc. wait wait wait wait wait. It can seem like forever because I am thinking hard in my head and now I have to pause it.
3. The interaction: FINALLY! ok, a nod will do. Maybe a "hey". You can't go too. You can't say, "Lovely day!" or "Homer is awesome!" or "Nice shirt!" No-----just nod or lift a hand.
4. Decompress. OK, try to get back onto my mental track-----ok, getting into the groove again...and then????
5. SOMEONE ELSE! :-O
I have done a lot of just staying in my mode and not saying hi to people walking by. I have analyzed how that looks when others do it. It is bad on many levels when everyone else is doing it but sometimes I have to.
And when I am really thinking hard and looking down it really bothers me when someone shouts "HI!" at me for no reason. I was obviously not looking at them and don't know them!
Then there are people you can see who are so averse to thinking that they say HI HI HI HI HIHIHIHIHIH HIHIHI HIH HI HI HI to everyone----dogs, people, cats. HELLO HELLO
Crazy stuff humans get themselves into.