If you’re working from home right now, you’re probably attending a lot of Zoom meetings. Zoom is a software that allows people to have video conference calls. Colleagues can see each other, talk, share their screens, etc. The software is easy to use, and people tend to rely on it heavily. It’s not unusual for people to have one or more Zoom meetings a day.
I’m thankful that we have a tool like Zoom to use for our team meetings. I also use Zoom on weekends to spend virtual time with friends and family. But I must admit that Zoom tires me out. I always feel a little exhausted after a video conference call or social gathering. And sometimes, instead of making me feel connected with other people, I find that Zoom meetings make me feel kind of lonely and disconnected.
If you experience similar feelings, you might chalk it up to being introverted, or not getting enough sleep at night. But in reality, it’s not about your personality or level of fatigue. According to author Kate Murphy, Zoom tires us out because it disrupts the way that we traditionally communicate with each other.
When we communicate with another person face-to-face, we pay attention to every change in that person’s facial expression. Every eye movement or head tilt gives us additional information. We rely on body language very heavily, and we often tend to mimic other people’s expressions to show that we understand and empathize with what they’re saying.
But according to researchers, Zoom doesn’t allow for that. There’s often a little lag. It’s difficult to see people’s expressions clearly. Sometimes it freezes up. So we can’t communicate the way that we’re used to communicating.
We try to compensate as best we can. We stare at other people’s faces, and try to read and mimic their expressions. But this is often difficult and tiring.
In addition, seeing our own faces on the screen can be very distracting. Not being able to make eye contact with the speakers can be disconcerting. And finally, there are often pauses and long moments of silence during Zoom meetings because people aren’t sure when it’s appropriate to speak. These pauses break up the flow of the conversation and can make things unintentionally awkward.
Still, Zoom is a great tool to use. It allows all of us to communicate from a distance, which is crucial. But if you do happen to be suffering from “Zoom fatigue,” you might want to call your family members this weekend rather than organizing a Zoom gathering. When you talk on the phone, you hear every sigh, laugh, and small change in tone. There are no confusing visual cues. Everything is synchronized perfectly. It can be the perfect palate cleanser!
Murphy, K. (2020, April 29). Why Zoom is terrible. The New York Times. Retrieved from: https://www.nytimes.com/2020/04/29/sunday-review/zoom-video-conference.html