On Thursday, October 15th Boulder will join the over 140 cities around the world in an experiment to see what 1 minute’s worth of eye contact can do. From the looks of the original viral video about this experiment, it can do quite a bit.

The global event is coordinated by The Liberators International. They are a peaceful international social movement based in Perth, Australia that focuses on organizing public demonstrations of peace. Their ultimate goal is to get people to realize that “beyond our differences there is love and humanity”. And they are working towards this goal with their simple, practical, and cost-effective approach.

Photo Credit: The Liberators International

Photo Credit: The Liberators International

The experiment asks that strangers sit or stand facing each other in order to make unbroken eye contact for just 60 seconds. This experiment seeks only to awaken the public to the possibility for connection between people without WiFi or news feeds.

Over 200 people are currently “Going” to the event on Pearl Street (between 13th & 14th) from 4pm-7pm tomorrow. The event will be driven purely by volunteer efforts. Bansi Buckley and Adrienne Drake are the main hosts of Boulder’s gathering, though many more will be working at this project.

The event is required to have at least 3 signs clearly stating what the event is, including the phrase: “Where has the human connection gone? Share 1 minute of eye contact to find out…” In addition to the mysterious prompt the event must also feature the help of ~8 volunteers, 25m of white rope, a black table cloth, folding table, sticky tape, hula hoops or chalk, folding chairs, 1 picnic rug (picnic blanket), 2 cushions, and 2 videographers to record the event. The footage from each city will be compiled by The Liberators International into a global video message promoting peace.

Anyone can sign up to be an additional eye-gazing host for this event in Boulder.  You just need to provide your own places to sit with another person. Chairs are good to have for the less mobile participants such as the elderly. For more adventurous gazers, bring hula hoops to stand in a exchange eye contact at full-height with a stranger. Then afterwards, see who can hula-hoop the longest! …Or not, your call.

This event exists to oppose the way social media distracts people from one another. Chances are you use a computer, phone, or television at least once a day. Maybe they even follow you to bed and become the first things you consult in the morning. It isn’t that technology is detrimental to connecting with others, but that it often distracts from face-to-face interaction. The social media page has become a highlight reel for our most important moments. Even the most pitiful posts are carefully selected. Nothing is visible unless it is scrutinized and controlled by the creator. Coming into contact with a real person denies us this ability.

In the real world, our flaws, biases, and defects are harder to hide. There are no filters to screen out folks we don’t want viewing our things. Everything is there in the flesh. We are vulnerable. And maybe this movement is not about establishing some “lost” connection that people had before social media technologies. The humble newspaper could just as easily block out all traces of human beings from your peripheral vision. So could a broad hat. But locking eyes with a person, and willingly giving them a minute of your time is a vulnerable position to be in. Your normal defenses are lowered, and both of you are forced to define one another. You must realize that the person just feet away is wide open to your scrutiny, yet willing to keep looking. They are giving you one thing which they will never get back–their time. And in that moment of contact you cannot see each other as anything but human.

Isn’t that how peace is begun?