Say Zoom One More Time

I dare you.  Go ahead.  Whisper it or shout. Weave it into conversation.  See what happens.

I can't be held responsible for the reflexive, bitter stream of vitriol that might come your way.  You have been warned.

Don't get me wrong.  I've zoomed my way through a few delightful happy hours with friends. My office HR department hosted a lovely little virtual water cooler gathering that warmed my heart.  My fiddle teacher's band live-streamed a concert in place of one they had to cancel, and it made me happy.  And there's no question that I am able to work from home productively thanks in no small part to the wonders of teleconferencing.

And yet.  My household participated in at least ten zoom meetings today, and we didn't make it to all of them.  With three "distance learners" and two "distance workers" -- none of whom have nearly enough distance from each other -- the bloom has officially faded from the rose of virtual meetings.  (We also have one grocery store employee who is still heading out that door to work each day: he's our very own superhero.)

Day seven, and I don't feel so much connected to the world by Zoom as bludgeoned over the head with it.

The virtual requests keep coming: all three girls' soccer teams are or will be holding online sessions; Rick will be hosting online sessions for the two teams he coaches, in addition to the coaches' meetings he's already doing.  Tomorrow I have four separate online meetings for work.  My fiddle lessons are now virtual.  Here at Casa de Alatorre, we're Zooming.  We're Google Hanging-Out.  We're FaceTiming.  We're FB Living. We're doin' it all and we might just be losing something in the process.

Every external activity we engage in, for work, health or recreation, has moved online.  It seems that the entire world is offering to zoom on into our home to provide connection! exercise! wellness!  interaction! community! self-improvement! fulfillment! nirvana!

Ok, maybe no one is offering nirvana-via-zoom.

The new Zoom-infused reality we are living in has got some kinks to work out.  The onslaught comes from a truly well-meaning place: people need connection, kids still need to be part of their soccer teams, work still needs to get done.  But the virtual frenzy needs to calm the f*** down.  We need to take a minute. a real, non-virtual minute, to process what's happening and how we can and should respond.  I'd calgon myself away from this madness, but chances are, someone's in the bathroom with a laptop or phone, and that's not the kind of livestream I think anyone needs right now.

Maybe, just maybe, we all need to take a breather.  Shelter in place is hard.  But maybe the answer isn't frantically figuring out how to deliver every possible experience via the internet.  I, personally, need some time to prioritize and think and consider what virtual experiences are actually going to help me and my family in this monumentally challenging time.

As varied and mystifying as family time can be, as hard as it is to be sheltered together by necessity, the situation does present a family with a unique opportunity to spend time differently.  Virtual gatherings of all kinds are not necessarily helping, and may instead be making it harder for us to come together and weather this storm.  When the world can come inside the house at all hours of the day and night, it feels like we have less control as a family over how our family is, simply with each other.

This is not a new observation for me: I've long despised the long tentacles of marketing that are able to reach my kids through their phones, robbing them of precious quietness of mind.

But this feels like next-level infiltration, dressed up in good intentions, and it's currently colliding with the intense experience of six people trying to navigate COVID19 without losing our minds.  There is a reason we come home and relax, finally through the work and school and practice day: home is where we escape the grind.  Now, it feels like the grind is zooming into where it does not belong.   I want to say ENOUGH, but I don't yet know what we can say no to and what we can't -- and everything is happening so fast.

Zoom and all the other platforms out there are good tools that will help us through Shelter In Place -- but they are not the answer and they might be obscuring the question.  What are our families not figuring out, as we turn to online platform after online platform?  I don't know: I want the time and space to wrestle with this question.

Still not gonna miss my 8am virtual pilates with Starr, and bless her for zooming that particular activity into my home.  :)



Jack said…
We are continuing the nearsighted march of “progress” we inherited, I imagine this crash course in large scale teleconferenced-life will lead to more virtual reality, rather than pulling the plug. Unfortunately, as a species, we’re not too disimilar to our viral antagonist. We plow forward with minimal regard and leave others to consider the wreckage. My parents worked in newspapers, now they do other work and cover their community through post to their publications Facebook account. I worked with children on a soccer field, now I work in a Zoom gallery. The Luddite and the hermit are the least disrupted at this time, but does their self-exclusion shape the future? For themselves, yes. For society, emphatically no. I think the question then, is how to give form to this chaotic creation/invasion? Which leaves us in the unenviable and humbling position of changing what we can, when we can, as we can.

Thanks for the opportunity to think and share. :-)
Monica said…
Thank you Jack! It's so strange -- I don't think we know yet how to navigate it all. Just trying to breath over here...


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