Something I have been hearing/reading more of recently is the idea of being ‘Zoomed out’ or ‘video call fatigue’. Whatever platform you use to contact friends and family, there is a term to describe the feeling of being sick and tired of endless video calls. Whether you use them for work meetings, friendly catch ups, games and quizzes or even meal companions, the lock down from Covid-19 has us scrambling for human connection through the only means we have.
Prior to lock down the idea of a video call to me was an inconvenience and slightly daunting. What needs to be said so urgently that the other party needs to see my face? Back in late 2019 my brother and sister-in-law revealed to the family their baby scan via video call on Whatsapp – that was probably the last ‘normal’ use of video call. Starting in March my Whatsapp video calls increased, I joined Zoom and Webex, and I used Google Hangouts for maybe the third or fourth time in my life. During lock down a video call may be the only way to see someone who does not live in close proximity to you.
I attend a video call almost every other day. That may be in the form of me calling my parents for a quick catch up, attending a church fellowship, or simply hanging out with friends and family. My mum loves to show me her cooking/baking and the plants she is growing, and my dad likes to show himself eating said baked goods. A group of friends and I have started a weekly quiz/game night with the quiz master rotating through the group. It has become something that we all look forward to and is a chance for us to hang out virtually. I host an online tea time video call once or twice a month with extended family. We get to see how big the children have grown, comment on each other’s baking triumphs, and catch up on work/furlough news.
Though the idea of a video call used to intimidate me a little, it has quickly become the norm and is a valuable asset in this difficult situation with Covid-19. However is there such thing as too many video calls? Those who are working from home may have mandatory meetings every morning to check in, or clients to contact. Family members may video call instead of a standard phone call, increasing the need to be ‘on’ and present. A friend of mine left a video call because her eyes were sore from staring at the screen. My cousin declined a family video call due to being part of a call for 2 consecutive days. There are more and more people saying no to video calls. There are also those who accept a call, don’t turn on their video and put themselves on mute. A friend called those kind of people ‘lurkers’. I am guilty of doing this sometimes as I am often focussing on something else but not wanting to miss anything important.
Whatever the reason for not attending a video call there is no harm in saying no. This notion of presenting our best selves digitally can be tiring and overbearing. In troublesome times we can do our part by being understanding and mindful of others.