By the end of last week I felt like I had been at a long banquet feast from another era. I had been subjected to a steady stream of courses, while trying to keep up with the various conversation topics, continuously reapplying my lipstick, thanking the hostess, complimenting the chef and musicians, and occasionally being enlisted to perform a party trick of my own. Yes, I’m talking about Zoom!
I l-o-v-e a social gatherings, even a meeting, but these feel too one-dimensional, too straight-jacketed, too stripped of human connection. Simply put, the Zoom-jammed calendar was too exhausting. I felt like I had a hang-over from it all. And … just to set the record straight, no, none of those included one of the now infamous Zoom Happy Hours.
The week Zoom–ed by and by Friday I was bloated. I couldn’t take one more bite of one more course. I needed to push away from the banquet table, my PC in this case, and take a break — give myself a chance to feel hungry for connection again. I hated to miss church on Sunday and was especially sorry to miss the social hour afterwards, but I couldn’t stomach it. I went for a walk instead.
I’m always ready and eager to socialize, so what is it about Zoom that is depleting me so?
Krista Tippett has also been exploring this question in her On Being podcast. She talks about how when we come together in person, we draw energy from each other, which isn’t being communicated through the screen. We’re not replenishing the basic store of life by being with each other, when we come together in a Zoom call. She goes on to say that this isn’t an ‘introverted’ or ‘extroverted’ thing, rather it’s a ‘human’ thing. Yes, thank you Krista, you nailed it for me. As usual, she’s able to name it so exquisitely that a light bulb comes on for me.
This morning, after a four-day Sabbath from Zoom, I felt refreshed enough to rejoin my Zoom life (code for all my social life outside this house). I’ve had three events thus far today and think I might even be up for the 4th one after dinner tonight. When we first retreated into the lock down, I thought this was going to be a brief interruption in how we interacted, so the approach was to simply zoom-ify my life until we could meet in person again. Don’t slow down, just ‘Carry On’.
I’m rethinking this strategy. We may have to keep this up longer than expected. I have virtual meeting limits I didn’t know about. How many drinks can you have and still walk the straight line? How many Zoom calls can you participate in and still maintain your equilibrium?
I’m going to be working on avoiding future Zoom hangovers.
What’s your limit? Have you hit it yet?