Zoom has taken the world by storm since COVID-19 struck in March.
To reduce the spread of the virus, businesses and schools have been replacing in-person classes with Zoom classes and meetings.
As a visual learner, I rely on in-person classes to understand the material being taught. Although there is a ‘share screen’ option on Zoom, it remains impersonal.
Zoom classes have increased my anxiety, decreased my engagement in class discussion and left me stuck behind a computer screen for long periods of time.
This semester, my classes are hybrid: both online and in-person. I am permitted to attend in-person classes once, maybe twice a week. Although I am able to attend the classroom setting at least once a week, it is difficult for us visual learners to excel in school when one-third of our classes are in-person and the rest of the information is relayed through a technological device.
Professors have been helpful during this difficult time. However, the increase in online classes has caused me to experience Zoom fatigue: the exhaustion and stress many people feel when they process information over video.
This effect, because of the increasing use of Zoom meetings, is real and important to address. Our brains have limited working capacity. Individuals, such as myself, are using this restricted space for our multiple weekly Zoom classes, causing fatigue.
Additionally, I experience increased anxiety before, during and after each Zoom class meeting.
When teachers open up a Zoom meeting for discussion and ask the participants to comment on what is being taught, my body tenses up. I know what I want to say, but I don’t know when to say it without interrupting one of my classmates or repeating what someone else already said.
In-person classes rely heavily on non-verbal communication, and I can raise my hand to be called on. Over Zoom, these gestures are extinct, which creates hesitation and anxiety. I also feel anxious when forced to leave my camera on for the duration of the class period.
On Zoom, it may seem as though someone is distracted, but they could simply be taking notes for the class. This results in anxiety because I am afraid of being called out for not paying attention when I am merely doing work for the class being taught.
I’ve noticed a decrease in engagement from myself and my classmates. Since we are all to remain muted throughout each Zoom session to refrain from background noise, class feels impersonal and disconnected.
I am less interested in what the professor has to say because it seems that they are speaking to the group as a whole and not to each of us individually.
I am also distracted by other things going on around me. If the television is playing in the background or my dogs are barking at the neighbors mowing their lawn, I block out what the teacher is saying for a short period of time to focus on the distraction, which causes me to miss vital information being taught.
On top of that, Zoom classes leave me stuck behind a computer screen for what seems like endless hours of lecture.
Having back-to-back Zoom classes is draining. My brain has already used up most of its capacity, and I am required to switch to completely different subjects with barely 10 minutes of breathing room in between each class.
I was taught from a young age not to sit behind a computer screen all day, as it is bad for your eyes and cognitive ability. With Zoom being the new “normal,” I am unable to learn adequately because I am stuck behind a computer screen.
Zoom fatigue causes me to feel emotionally and physically drained, and I know I’m not the only one feeling this way during these unprecedented times.
Victoria Oakes is a junior from Middlebury, Indiana. She is studying accounting and is also a member of the Goshen College women’s tennis team.