Not like there was much to kill in the first place. I mean, I’d already been struggling in the social department since I hit puberty, but Zoom is really taking things to another level. In fact, I think it’s turning us all into monsters.
How do I know? Well, I’ve had the privilege to pivot into education since the dawn of the new year, and having to spend eight hours a day on Zoom has highlighted just how much this software is killing my social abilities.
Here’s the rundown
Perhaps it’s not a me problem, eh? Maybe the blame lies on someone else. Still, maybe a little explaining could do you guys some good. So let’s start with the bad habits I’ve been picking up from spending so much time on Zoom.
My eyes are up here
I’ve gotta be honest, whenever I’m in a Zoom call, I’m actually looking at myself more than I’m looking at the people I’m talking to. And I don’t really care, because I assume it’s the same for them as well.
After all, we’re just a bunch of people staring into our monitors, so it’s pretty natural to look away from the camera, am I right?
But this is the exact thing that’s killing my social skills. After about five months of eight-hour daily Zooming, I now find it hard to look people in the eye in real life. And that’s just the start of my problems.
Using the phone mid-conversation
This is a pretty rude thing to do in real life, right? But I do it all the time while I’m on Zoom. Is it screen fatigue? Well, I’m staring at another screen so I’m going to guess not.
In fact, why don’t I just scroll through Facebook on my laptop? Why go through all the pains to hide my phone from the camera so that I have something to occupy my mind as we talk about the goings on of the day? I have zero idea.
But because of this, I’m now tempted to take out my phone every time I’m chatting with someone in real life. It’s official. I now have zero self-control. I’m doomed.
You know that classic pose of sitting with one leg on the stool? That’s me when I Zoom. The good thing about having mediocre camera resolution is that my black pants aren’t typically visible against my black t-shirt, so to the unsuspecting eye, I’m just another person sitting normally on camera.
But look carefully and you’d probably catch a faint outline moving across my chest, and yes, that would be me talking to you while massaging my own foot.
I haven’t had the compulsion to do this in real life yet though. Maybe we should have lunch together or something and I can put myself to the test.
By the way, this isn’t racist because I’m Asian myself. Right?
You won’t be able to tell that I’m doing so because I’ll be doing it off camera. To you, I’m probably staring at a particularly low corner of my screen. But what I’m actually doing is twisting the earphone cable, or twirling my pen, or pressing the home button on my phone before scrolling through it mid-conversation.
I’m aware that I probably look like a coke addict going through withdrawals, but now that Zoom has afforded me the freedom to do this without your knowledge, I find myself being able to resist fidgeting less and less.
And I worry that this would be my modus operandi once we all return to normal socialising.
But it’s not all me
Look, as much as I’d like to take all the blame for being a bad Zoomer, I have also noticed that everyone else’s etiquette game on the platform hasn’t exactly been up to par either. For instance, let’s start off with the camera-shy person.
It’s always the forehead. The person who feels self-conscious on Zoom always tends to favour this body part as their display of choice.
It’s a pretty weird thing to talk to somebody’s forehead, and like one of those ‘highly unsatisfying videos’ you’d find on YouTube, it really does irk me that I spend the entire conversation hoping that you’d actually tilt your camera just a tad lower.
But even that’s not as bad as the person that just attends meetings only by name—and quite literally too, sometimes. If I wanted to get ghosted, I’d just go back to Tinder. Yet here I am, dealing with people who join the meetings and turn off all forms of communication throughout.
I know we’re in the digital age now, and I should at least expect a little change in the way we interact, but man, it does feel like I’m talking to a wall sometimes when all you have for feedback is forty black boxes staring back at you.
You could argue that at least the ghosts are silent, and they rarely disrupt meetings, unlike those who breathe down the microphone, or worse, are listening to background music without muting themselves.
I think this is a good time to remind everyone that proper Zoom etiquette involves keeping yourself on mute until it’s your turn to speak.
Yes, you might want to avoid being ‘the ghost’, but that doesn’t mean you should mutter your agreements after every sentence. But perhaps I feel that way only because you’re interrupting my phone scrolling.
It’s not all bad, though
You know, as much as I enjoy bitching about Zoom, the fact is that it’s a pretty awesome platform, as I never once thought I’d be able to share my days with people from all over the world, and even get to know them much better than most of the people I’ve met in real life (though that’s probably a me problem more than anything else).
Who knew that it took a pandemic to teach us how we could adapt to anything if we really wanted to?
Except talking to people’s foreheads. Don’t think I’ll ever get used to that.