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.  

24 thoughts on “Zoom

  1. ”Zoomies” are when animals run around at night to get the pent up energy of the day out of their system. I have mainly seen my dog Selby do this. But when Zoom became prevalent I couldn’t help but compare it to “Zoomies.” So next time you have a tic on Zoom just think of it as your own version of “Zoomies!” 🐶

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Declan’s social skills teacher talks constantly how she continues to try and encourage Declan to make eye contact when he is speaking. He often just stares at something in the sky. If he is excited or anxious, forget about it. The last two zooms I had to do with the school I became aware I was doing the same thing when I was speaking. Speaking to a bunch of people on the screen was just as intimidating to me and I could not look at them. I looked out the window or to the ceiling every time I had to talk. I still associate my fears to social anxiety and public speaking – but it was still clear to me. Zoom is NOT for everyone.

    Geez, I haven’t heard about this new one. I thought the same about getting vaccinated. This is going to take forever for everyone to get two shots. We are going to be zooming for a long time at this rate.

    Liked by 1 person

    • No it’s not. I see it as yet one more advantage for the extroverts who like to put themselves in the limelight. Zoom has made me much more aware of my tics. They are more pervasive than I thought. Or maybe I’m just more stressed. That can escalate them too.

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Have you heard that California has it’s very own variant? We also have the other 3 mutations, but now we have a homegrown 4th.
    My nurse Daughter says there are fewer cases in the hospital lately, but the ones coming in are SUPER sick.
    I think ZOOM is the new 4 letter curse word!

    Liked by 1 person

  4. Zoom is a challenge. I’ve been volunteered as host for a group zoom gathering. Reminds me of the National Lampoon’s yearbook freshman photo page. Its about that animated. So many deer frozen in the headlights, still cut outs move as much. Its not that something is missing, rather its that something is added. The new element is that everyone is up front. There is no anonymity in not being the speaker. We are not used to looking at all the faces at once. Imagine being in a conference room and rather than looking at the speaker you are looking at the audience. That would be strange behavior in real meetings. But in a zoom meeting nobody knows your head is turned away from the speaker. You are looking at that guy’s wife or kid or cat moving in the background. You’re still listening….but what’s the point of all those heads when only one is talking? Some kind of disconnect where new technology meets old social behavior.

    Liked by 1 person

    • I do believe there is speaker view where the screen is monopolized by only the one speaking, but no one uses it. If zoom is the new new normal , we’ll have plenty of time to adapt it to societies needs.


  5. Oh, I forgot….re:Covid – answer is ……there are too damn many people in the world. Nature is simply invoking her regulatory mechanism for dealing with an over populating specie. Not rocket science really but the denial is understandable. The ultimate effect of vaccines will be to make humanity an irresistible environment for new evolved pathogens. And, knowledge of virus evolution is a double edged sword – re: “Twelve Monkeys” an old flick many of us are being reminded of….good luck to everyone.

    Liked by 1 person

    • The really sad part: even if we get beyond the pandemic (which I don’t believe will fully happen) the next pandemic is just over the hill. Of course the next one is likely to be this one mutated, and the cull will really begin.


      • I get much grief when I say…there are just too damn many people. A virus sweeping thru a population is natures way of regulating. I ask people, is 14 billion humans twice as good as 7 billion? blank stares….nothing they’ve considered. Nature has noticed. Nature acts.

        Liked by 2 people

  6. I hope your prognostication is wrong, Jeff. But I love your blogpost anyway. Could “Zoom” be more misnamed or mislabeled?! I prefer “Vroom”. It captures the video connecting part, and also the devastation and ironic aspect of having to fulfill most aspects of our lives from a room, surrounded by four walls.

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Maybe zoom is the crude early version of something better….makes sense. Like avatars in 3d. it would clean up that 5 o’clock shadow, the midriff inner tube and the weak chin. we could float in virtual space and interact that way….but the content, sales, listening to the CEO praise himself, the usual caca in corporate meetings, wouldn’t justify the new medium’s expanse and potential.

    re: covid, ya, might be the new normal. Might be that we have achieved a population threshold where we need to limit person to person contact. Finding magic bullets for each virus is like the wild fire policy in the western USA….it just piles on the fuel ahead of each epidemic. we find the natural route to herd immunity unacceptable and the un natural one is not sustainable. there doesn’t have to be a happy way out in spite of our wishing there were. we are only special and exceptional in our own eyes.

    Liked by 1 person

  8. I am so glad I am retired. I am Zoomed out! I read somewhere that a more contagious strain of the virus will ultimately kill more people than a more deadly strain. It all comes down to the number of people infected. Sometimes it does seem like the end of the world. Or at least the end of humanity.

    Liked by 2 people

    • I read that and did the math. Significantly more people. Of course some of these are seemingly more contagious AND more deadly. RIght, the world isn’t going to end, just be rid of it’s most ungracious guests.

      Liked by 1 person

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