As the myth goes, if you sneeze with your eyes open your eyes will pop out of your head. This is has long since been disproven, but it doesn’t change the fact that our eyes do indeed close when we sneeze. You can force them open with your fingers or keep them nice and wide with sheer force of will, no hand required, but our natural inclination is to seal them shut when a sneeze comes hurling out of our heads.
For so long I never wondered why we close our eyes when we sneeze…but then I saw a video of Youtube user Jaadalade sneezeing twice with her eyes open and I realized why we unconsciously close our eyes. It’s not out of some fear of our eyes rocketing out of our skulls, it’s a subconscious need to not look like we’re attempting a sudden and deadly attack upon those around us.
Here’s the original video, in which Jaadalade forces a sneezes and, while summoning the strength of a god, keeps her eye lids as wide as the sea when standing on a dock overlooking the endless horizon.
For those that may have missed it, here’s a still picture of what this girl looked like when she sneezed with her eyes open the first time…
Our brains are more than capable of understanding that a sneeze wouldn’t turn our eyes in to little spring-loaded missiles like we’re G.I. Joe action figures and our eyes are our primary weapon. Our brain is so wise and aware of social norms and taboos that it recognizes when a sneeze is on the way, and it commands your eyes to fold down their lids and hide the eyeballs because if they were to be exposed at the time of the sneeze, everyone around you would think you are a highly trained and extremely dangerous government operative and sneezing is what triggers your savage bloodlust.
In a world where everyone sneezes with their eyes open, no one trusts each other, no one feels comfortable around each other. It would be like living in a tense spy thriller where no one is sure of anyone else’s true allegiance and the only person you can trust is yourself. Oh, yeah, sure, Phil is a great friend, but every time he sneezes you see murderous intent and bestial madness. Phil isn’t sneezing because some boogers tickled his nose in a weird way, he’s sneezing because in that brief moment his inherent animalistic desire for carnage and death shinea through; his true intentions shine through.
We don’t close our eyes during a sneeze to prevent our eyes from shooting out, we close our eyes to prevent someone else from preemptively putting an end to our lives after they see the Lovecraftian-level of madness that exists just below the surface, if it actually isn’t there. It’s a self-preservation strategy.