In the times of the pandemic, virtual communication has become an integral part of our daily lives. Zoom has recently stated that the platform has a whopping 300 million daily meeting participants, which has soared from 10 million back in December. Similarly, Microsoft has recorded 200 million meeting participants in a single day, and Google Meet hit over 100 million daily users.
At this point, we all know very well that not everything is what it seems when you’re connecting in the comfort of your home. So when a scientist named Gretchen Goldman shared a revealing snap of her actual Zoom call background, it was bound to go viral. The caption stated: “Just so I'm being honest,” and the tweet amassed 282.5k likes and 30.6k retweets.
Sooner than we knew it, many others also decided to share what their colleagues and interviewers on the other side of the screen don’t get to see. The pics are both painfully relatable and funny to look at, and it’s a fair reminder that nailing the effortlessly cool video call setup is kinda a form of art.
Image credits: GretchenTG
The worldwide pandemic has clearly changed the ways we communicate on a daily basis, and video calls have been a part of this. However, as video conferencing platforms continue to boom, more and more users have been reporting feeling worn-out and tired. There’s now even a slang term “Zoom fatigue” which refers to this newly occurring phenomenon.
Andrew Franklin, an assistant professor of cyberpsychology at Virginia’s Norfolk State University, told National Geographic that “There's a lot of research that shows we actually really struggle with this.” He thinks people may be surprised at how difficult they’re finding video calls given that the medium seems neatly confined to a small screen and presents few obvious distractions.
It turns out that, even though in theory, video calls are designed to be smooth and efficient, in reality, they do demand increased effort and concentration from their users. For example, the participant has to pay much more attention to the words uttered, which makes it hard for people who’re dependent on non-verbal communication cues.
The second challenge of video calls has to do with the fact that it requires simultaneous focus on multiple screens. Franklin said that “we’re engaged in numerous activities, but never fully devoting ourselves to focus on anything in particular.”
Parallel conversations are also impossible in this virtual setting. Simultaneously, we often find multiple people talking over the teacher at the same time, which can feel overwhelming to the listeners. As a result, for many of us, the mental load of attending packed conferences may be harder than we’d think.