These lockdown measures have really started to take a toll on me. Last week especially, I was feeling pretty, well for lack of a better term, blegh. Pretty blegh. My energy levels were abysmally low, as was my excitement for life.
It was hard, in the muddiness of such negativity, to reflect on what exactly was making me feel so... blegh. I know, being an extrovert, that the lessened and sometimes lack of social interaction was hard. But it had to be more than that... right?
I was having regular Zoom meetings, even some meetings in person while physically distant; but yet, I was feeling downright... blegh.
Through one of the many mindless hours spent scrolling Twitter last week, I came across a tweet from Andy Root (see my previous blog post about Andy here). This tweet really pulled my reflections into focus and gave me some parameters and language to start thinking a little deeper about what it was that was ailing me so deeply.
If you’re exhausted by zoom, feeling like it’s zapping your soul, here’s why. Eva Illouz drawing from Goffman on her study of internet dating. For me Zoom is all the suck of meetings with none of the good. Goffman explains. pic.twitter.com/v3XlghqyjZ— Andrew Root (@RootAndrew) April 29, 2020
When people are embodied together, there are two types of information: the kind freely given and the kind given off, as referenced in the book tweeted by Andy. It is that information that is given off that is so dearly missed.
On a zoom call there is no information given off. We get to see someone’s face with no guarantee that they are looking back. Eye contact is rarely, if ever, made because we are looking at the screen and not the camera; and if you do look at the camera, you cannot see the other person's eyes. This is exacerbated the more people you add to a zoom call.
This is even present in our embodied hangouts these days. We are unable to visit anyone outside our immediate isolation pods without social tension and extra thought and concern about everything. The simple act of placing a pitcher of water on the table to refill water glasses becomes a stressful experience for some due to the risk of contamination. In this instance, the information given off is information of stress and tension, that makes our social interactions tiresome and exhausting.
I pray each day for an end to this, but I also pray for clarity on what I can receive from this and what God is doing in my life and the life of the church. As much as I can try to have a good attitude, this really sucks and I would rather it all be done soon.
I hope these reflections give you, the reader, some food for thought about the way we interact with one another in this time of physical distancing.