It’s that feeling we have come to know all too well in our fractured COVID-19 world.Zoom fatigue is associated with repeated or extended uses of virtual communication platforms. Symptoms may include weariness, anxiety, irritability or distracted lethargy.
Some classes must be accessed remotely. Study groups meet in breakout rooms. Meetings that used to take place “in the flesh” (and involved their own brand of tedium) have now mostly been relegated to the ether.
Your face-in-a-box joins other faces-in-boxes to make up a gallery of box-faced, pajama bottomed conclaves. You can mute yourself. You can even turn off your camera. But you can’t hide. Oh, the unbearable lightness of being in a faceless box with your name on it.
And yet, the alternating alternative is to sit in a room of masked strangers. Muffled lectures interspersed with muzzled discussions.
We, who have evolved to read each other’s faces, and depend on the signals they broadcast, must now engage with veiled visages.
The effect can be quite disorienting. We may still discern the twinkling eye or the averted gaze, a raised brow, a wink and a nod. But gone are the wry smile and the crinkled nose. No more dimpled cheeks, pursed lips or open mouthed guffaws.
Who was that person I just passed on the sidewalk, and greeted warmly, unrecognized?
We’re a resilient species, and we can get used to anything.
But how long, O Lord? In the meantime, we Zoom, Zoom, Zoom and delight in the occasional Zoom-based meme.
Recently, we were entertained by the case of a lawyer Zoomed into a live hearing who gets stuck in a filter that makes him look like a cat.
The video went viral, of course. The judge tries to instruct the lawyer how to disable the filter, to no avail. Frustrated and embarrassed, the lawyer assures the judge that he’s not actually a cat, all appearances to the contrary.
Outcome: Zoom fatigue temporarily abated.
In mimicked homage to Magritte’s brilliant surrealist study captioned, “This is not a pipe,” a master memer captured the feline lawyer’s dilemma.