Tuesday, July 20, 2010

Day 17: What I Have Learned and The End.

It has been over two weeks since I started the Sunglasses Experiment and I think I know everything there is to know about it.

The SKUSA race had two similar situations that were revealing for me. On Thursday, I walked up to someone I knew that was in a group and normally I would not have done this. Yet, the few days after I could not go up to someone because I did not know them. What does this mean? What this shows is that the sunglasses are only effective in situations with people I already know.

These sunglasses have made everything I already know easier, be it food ordering, talking with people I already know, or trips to retail stores. Are they the magic cure? No, but they do reduce the amount of anxiety with events and people I already know.

I don't know if I will blog on the remaining 14 days because it may be more than 14 days! Why would I want to go back to normal glasses? I can now make eye contact in longer spurts and when I do wear normal glasses I often forget that the other person can actually see my eyes. On Sunday, during the rain, it was too dark for my normal glasses. As I stood and loitered around Jamie McMurray's, pit I forgot I was not wearing my sunglasses.

So again I ask, why would I want to go back? If I wear these for longer than 30 days would this forgetfulness increase in strength?

My next question is this; Would it be considered rude if I stayed behind the sunglasses? For others it would appear, from my observation, that eye contact is essential for there to be a connection between two people. This is fine, but for me I can't stay drilled on another person's eyes, but with the sunglasses that person won't know if I am resetting myself by looking away. Rude or not, I don't want to go back to never feeling a connection. It would be hard to explain to someone in a short sentence, but really, by me wearing these sunglasses I am trying to feel connected with them and without the sunglasses it is just so much more difficult.

I wouldn't call today the end of my Sunglasses Experiment but rather the day I realized that these are an effective aid in my ability to socialize. I don't think I will end it as it will continue on. Maybe someday I will try normal glasses and of course when it is too dark I will obviously be forced into it, but why would I want to go back. I am better at recalling a person (I am not good, I just said better and going from a vague image is better than when I could just remember a blurred out foggy image) and I now feel a faint sense of a connection.

So, my findings are profound and I like it. I didn't think I would be this comfortable with them. There is a sense of safety I have never had before. I no longer feel as though you know what I am thinking and it feels wonderful. These sunglasses are a barrier of sorts and I need it. Again, maybe someday I will feel this way without them, but for now the sunglasses experiment will be the sunglasses life. Perhaps the name of my blog is fitting because this is just another example of the wall between us. However, you could consider this a nice portal that allows the two sides of the wall to interact and I think I like it that way!


  1. Good realizations, Aaron! You are a brave man to both put yourself in situations that will be new and scary AND blog about them. Thanks for letting us into your world.

  2. Are you feeling a connection to your blog friends? If it is easier to connect with people face to face behind the security of the sunglasses then is it possible to feel a nice connection with your readers because we are not face to face. Your readers are starting to feel a real connection to you. Have you thought about this? Do you feel the connection in return and does this make you feel good or uncomfortable?

    My thoughts turn to this angle because of your sentence "It would be hard to explain to someone in a short sentence, but really, by me wearing these sunglasses I am trying to feel connected with them".

    I am excited for you because you are TRYING, which tells me that you WANT to connect, even though at times in the past you have stated that you did not want to connect. It is funny that you said you are trying to connect to THEM. Who is 'them'. Them is 'us'. Would the connection be different if I signed in as 'anonymous' or if I use my profile?

    Does that make sense?

  3. When you asked about the rudeness, I realized that yes, I normally consider folks who wear sunglasses indoors as rude. Now, having followed your sunglasses experiment, I will have new insight and won't be so quick to judge in the future.

    As for a possible compromise for you... how about getting those self-darkenening perscription glasses that become sunglasses in the sun and gradually lighten when you enter the indoors again? My grandmother has a pair like that.

    I can see two benefits to this. 1) They do look different than your standard dark/reflexive sunglasses, so for someone to see you wearing them indoors they'd realize you must have just been outside, and they won't think you rude, and 2) it'll be a gradual transition each time from sunglasses to regular glasses for you, hopefully easing you back into eye contact without the crutch of the dark sunglasses. Just a thought, maybe it could help.

    Thanks so much for blogging about this! I am actually seeing a lot of similarities with what you describe in myself (I started following bc a relative has Aspergers).

  4. Hi! Thanks for sharing this! I have a son with ASD. He is almost 7 and non verbal. I appreciate your insight into the struggles that you face with eye contact.

    I don't think wearing sunglasses indoors is rude. Are you still using them?

  5. I still wear them from time to time and am still processing everything I learned from my experiment.

  6. Social situation is the thing to determine whether sunglasses are acceptable indoors. If you are playing a poker home game or at a casino, this is perfectly acceptable because you may not want to give off tells of what you have. However, other settings you are going to have to explain yourself if you don't have conditions that warrants you to wear sunglasses indoors.