Can we be done with Zoom?
Thursday night, eight-ish. I just got home from work. My company had a board meeting on Zoom tonight. “Zoom” you say? “Why were you out? Why not just do the meeting from your bedroom? Everyone else does.” Last summer, for a finance committee meeting, I set up my laptop on my screened porch. A nice backdrop of trees, gentle bird-chirping accompaniment, my imaginary hair blowing in the breeze, an inviting glass of seltzer at my elbow. Peaceful. Relaxed. I started my presentation. Forty seconds in: “Jeff, can you start again? You’ve been frozen the whole time.” An hour of this. My last work-Zoom from home.
Now I just go into my office. It’s only a mile away. We have an upload speed of one-point-seven-zillion mega-somethings. Susan goes into my office too when she has an after-hours meeting. It’s a nice set up: large high def screen, quality speakers, comfy chair. I even have a stand-alone microphone that you can position right in front of yourself so you look like a senator.
Every night this week, I’ve had a Zoom meeting. Mountain bike coaching just started. And by coaching, I mean the countless hours I spend not coaching, but meeting. I do these Zooms from home. Training sessions—I just listen. No one knows if I’m frozen.
Like so many of my posts, this one began with a blog comment. I complained about being required to Zoom with Tourette Syndrome. People with Tourette “tic.” Tics are the uncontrollable sounds and motions we make. Uncontrollable is a bit of a misnomer in my case. I have some control. If I’m talking to you, I wait until you look away to squish-up my eyes.
No one looks away in Zoom. If you’re staring at a screen with twelve people, do you look at the eleven sitting slack-jawed, eyes glazed over, bored just like you, or do you focus on the one making faces. The pandemic has brought me to terms with Tourette. There’s simply nothing I can do about it in meetings. I can no longer pretend people don’t notice. Still, I think the Americans with Disabilities Act should have me covered in some fashion.
Remember in December when the vaccine came out? All those newscasters talking like the Covid crisis was ending. My natural skepticism keeps me from ever being let down. Skepticism and math. One million vaccines a day! That’s what they promised. 330,000,000 Americans, two shots each, we need seventy percent vaccinated to reach herd immunity. That’s 462 days. The crisis isn’t ending.
If you’ve been reading this blog for a year, you know that I take great pride in my eerily accurate Covid predictions. Back in June, when I still thought Biden’s presidential victory was going to be a piece of cake, I cockily wrote him a speech to give after the inauguration. His first address to the nation about Covid. It contained this nugget:
“ We now have two clear variations of Covid-19 circling the globe. Variant A appears to be more contagious but less damaging to internal organs. Variant B, with a seventeen percent hospitalization rate, is straining our medical system beyond its ability to cope.”
Last night, as my family sat together in our living room, Sophie lost in Tik Tok, Eli running over innocent pedestrians in Grand Theft Auto, Susan and I on our computers, I read an article about the Brazil Variant. Sobering but unsurprising to me—rapidly spreading, and seemingly far more dangerous than the normal disease. Susan, somehow knowing that I was reading the same article, asked “Do we need to worry about this Brazil Variant?”
In my house, only one person makes hyperbolic statements about the coronavirus. But last night, Susan said “Jesus, it’s like it’s the end of the world.” And she’s right. Maybe not the end of the world, but a big ass problem of uncontrollable proportions. With the rate the virus is mutating, increasing in transmissibility and virulence, we’ll forever be in catch-up mode on vaccinations. Even if the US can reach that magical herd immunity figure, other countries won’t. Billions of people will continue spreading a mutating disease that takes over a year to inoculate.
I’m not certain why our world leaders aren’t telling us this. Maybe they’re Pollyannas, maybe deceptive. Ignorant? Doubtful. Maybe I’m just freaking out, off-base, being paranoid. Maybe I have no idea what I’m talking about. But I’m pretty sure we’re going to be Zooming for an awfully long time.