Are you zoomed out yet?

Do you have a morning routine? My day starts with browsing on my phone in bed for half an hour, before I get up, get ready, walk my dog, then head to work. And once I get to the office, some of my colleagues who work on an earlier schedule are already starting Zoom meeting No. 2.

I remember watching the Demolition Man. Strangely the movie predicted a very similar future like the one we are currently living in, including the video calling. COVID-19 has put us back in our individual bubbles. Remote interactions became the mainstream.

We turn on the screen, adjust the camera to a perfect angle where people can’t tell if you are wearing pants or not, put on a fake background to mask over the messy reality, and lock yourself in a virtual meeting room for the next 30 to 60 minutes.

Although videoconferencing is extremely convenient for people who are in different geographical locations, are those daily/weekly check-in meetings really effective? How many actions are carried out actually? How often do you talk over someone else in a group zoom, or never get a chance to speak? What do we do if we misinterpret a person or a message? Who’s going to tell us that we are wrong?

With the multiple screens going in rotation, I spend at least the first 3 minutes to try to figure out who are in the “room” and who are hosting. People will only see the side of my face because I am looking into the big monitor rather than the tiny laptop display. No one can tell my facial expression or pick up on my non-verbal cues. There’s usually an awkward silence after each time I speak. I am tired of starring at a screen, constantly deciding if I should “interrupt” someone else before we move onto the next topic, and worrying about me coming off rude or inconsiderate.

The Zoom Fatigue is real.

During those zoom meetings, being conscious of everyone’s time, we start to forgo the small talks. We get to the point, check things off the agenda, sign off then sign into the next meeting. Very much like robots, controlled, efficient, but superficial.

How much longer before we can go out and have that cozy coffee meet again? I want to tell you my stories, as I look into your eyes, not a cold screen.