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The Zoom Where it Happens

In this new age, we have had to learn an entirely new set of behavioural signals and norms. I say "have had to learn" as if we had learned them already, but in reality, this work is still in progress.

I mean to focus on the last few years in particular—the COVID period. One might speculate we have all gained in our ability to express our emotions through our eyes and eyebrows. Maybe, for the most talented people, even the bridge of the nose can come into play. Friendliness, disbelief, rage, wonder, ennui...we have strived to express all of these with the top half of our faces while sucking oxygen through an N95 mask, or at least a (notably ineffective, but more stylish) bandanna, that covers half of our usual tools for expression.

I do wonder how will babies and toddlers growing up in this era respond? Will they some day display heightened ability to read faces that are only partially visible? Even a preference for same? Will future captains of industry insist on a dress code that includes "masking up" at work as a general practice? And the question at the top of everyone's mind, for an entire generation, how will this affect porn?

Another area where we have had to learn new rules is the etiquette of teleconferencing. To be frank, I don't know that we have yet attained mastery in this province. For example, it's not very conducive to good communcation to start every meeting with a cacophony of "Can you hear me's?" This also does not seem to transfer well to in-person communication, as evidenced in this very clever video. Or this one by, like, the same people on another day of cleverness.

More awkward than starting is leaving a conference call on Meet or Zoom or what-have-you. I have made feature suggestions to Zoom, for example, to include exit animations like a curtain closing or something reminiscent of Looney Tunes, which I think would ease the task of meeting managers who now have to sit there with awkward smiles or overlong hand-waves until they are certain no one is still watching them. (So far the company seems to have "other priorities" like "privacy concerns" and "technical issues" and "wearing bunny ears.")

No, really, we've all done well, under the circumstances. We've managed. Commerce has still happened. Decisions have still occurred. Communication has transpired. The world has persisted in spinning.

(And yes, I have started a song titled the same as this post.)

I welcome your comments on this topic.

Can you still hear me? You'r breaking up a b


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