Why oh why, do we roll our eyes?

Alright so I'm gonna be honest here, I don't remember what this post is supposed to be ranting about. Obviously something happened in my life involving an eye roll and I thought to myself, huh, I bet people would enjoy a rant about the eye roll, and then I sat down, typed this title, and saved it in my queue to write another day. It's another day...and I waited too long. But I reckon I can come up with something to say about eye-rolling regardless. So, here it goes. 

I roll my eyes all the time. When I was younger, I rolled my eyes at everything and everyone, especially my parents. It was one of the only indiscretions that earned me a time out where I sat on the stairs rolling my eyes some more at how ridiculous this punishment was (I liked sitting anyways). But as a serial eye-roller, I must say that I know very little about it's origins.

Today, the eye roll is the most passive form of aggression, which is probably why women use it more often than men. Rolling your eyes says, "oh, please," "give me a break," "unbelievable." It is contempt, distaste, and exasperation.  However, according to the Oxford English Dictionary, the eye-roll used to invoke passion and lust. It said, "Good day, I choose you. Court me and I shall perhaps show you an elbow." Good stuff. A lot has changed since  the 15th century.

Many historical arguments try to explain how the eye-roll transitioned it's implications here. There are also some interesting tidbits about eye-rolling found here–my favorite being that the judgmental eye roll of the present really started in the 80's. Put down the guitar and pick up a martini, the era of Rock n' Roll is now the era of Eye n' Roll.  I couldn't find any research into why the 80's pushed our eye activity to new levels of expression so if anyone actually does know why, please let me know. Right now my best guess is drugs.

I spent the week observing eye rolls here in New York and found that we roll our eyes at anything; really it is all up for rolls. But lately the most common reactions I have seen are to three things: slow walkers, mobile devices, and Trump. Thank you eye roll, for clarifying how everyone feels about those things. 

Kiersten UteggComment