2430: Post-Pandemic Hat
Title text: Plus a shirt that says "it feels like you're making eye contact."
During the COVID-19 pandemic, there was a significant shift from in-person to computer-mediated interactions for both recreational and professional activities. For many, the computer setup used for these interactions is a laptop with a webcam above the screen. As people have become accustomed to looking directly into the camera, i.e. above where the other people's faces are, to simulate eye contact for meetings, Randall implies that there will be issues returning to pre-COVID life. In response, he has designed a baseball cap with an image that resembles a laptop webcam that sits above the wearer's eyes and a message that humorously acknowledges that the reader is likely reverting to virtual meeting habits for in-person interactions and that reminds people that for in-person interactions, one must look the other person's face, not above it like there's a webcam there.
The cap in this strip likely references a tradition of novelty tee-shirts, intended to be worn by women, feature "my eyes are up here!" or similar words written across the chest, and an arrow pointing upwards. These shirts are designed to both tease and parody the tendency of heterosexual men to look at a woman's breasts, usually automatically and without conscious thought. The cap, as a result, compares the conditioned response of looking at a webcam with the instinctive response of looking at a woman's chest, both of which would result in failure to make eye contact during a conversation.
Actual shirt-based text (as in the Title Text) would represent where a video-conferencer is not staring at the screen-top camera to 'fake' eye contact on the other screen(s) but truly aimed at the image of the eyes. The view of such an 'honest' stare could look like a 'chest gaze'.
1889: xkcd Phone 6 'solved' all these problems by putting a camera in the middle of the screen.
- [A ballcap with an image of a webcam lens and a message reading "Excuse me, my eyes are actually down here" above a downward-facing arrow]
- [Caption below the panel]: Hat for post-pandemic socializing
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