I'm sick and tired of video-chatting
I trust my toaster, but I don't take orders from it. Nor do I let my microwave micromanage my affairs. My TV's bossy, constantly telling me to vax and mask and I'll be saved, but I ignore it.
I have an OK face but an attitude made for radio, not TV. Too edgy for camera — I'm talking about my face, that is.
Really, I'm beautiful, trust me. I mean, I have some rosacea, and "summer" teeth (some are here, some are there), but otherwise—I'm fine. I look presentable and am freshly showered and shaved for a client call. I'd pass with flying colors if it were smell-o-vision.
This may soon be my pre-refuting argument for potential clients who want to video chat with me, to whom I say: "Since you know from my work that I can report and write well, please, only connect by email and phone. It's easier for me to take notes that way."
Still, many new clients insist on teleconferencing by Teams or another platform.
I bring this up because of the seemingly ever-present tyranny of technology these days. It's hard even to meet a friend in a different part of town if you don't bring your phone. And I do not like to carry a phone. What's the need? If I get in trouble on the street, they'll capture it on camera and decipher the footage six weeks later.
Out of a concern for safety in a defund-the-cops era, we're constantly being filmed and photographed even walking on the street. Frankly, that camera on us everywhere is discomfiting.
We also are constantly prodded to stay electronically tethered, and I naturally resist the e-leash. I'm tired of new clients wanting to video chat with me. I know I am cranky, but there's simply no need. I work by phone and by computer. People never see me working unless they insist on a Teams meeting or something.
What would be the point of such a meeting for me? To annoy me? I look fine, and I am not meeting the public for any client nowadays. So why must you see me?
I'm getting so old and cranky that I am straight-up refusing such calls sometimes. Sounds dumb, right? I mean, life is about how much you make, not any quality of the things you are actually doing and making, right?
Wrong — for me, at least.
As I get older, making the right connections is seeming more important. My perspective is cautious on many matters. I want to be with the right people.
Somehow — some crazy way through the internet — I was able to work with Chronicles editor Annie Holmquist on four separate stories that were published in Chronicles, before she and I ever talked on the phone. We've worked on a few more stories since talking that one time.
What's my point? We all have different styles, and that should be encouraged. Technology shouldn't be used so much as a cudgel, or as a box to capture.
I don't take any lip from my coffee maker, although I count on it. And I don't appreciate my computer trying to boss me around. Never suffer a bully — not even an e-bully.
Get outta my face, Zoom!
Some of us hate being on a videoconference call. I find it distracting, seeing my face on TV even in miniature on the computer. Actually, it seems that perhaps everybody hates videoconferencing. People who use such platforms all the time suffer from "Zoom fatigue."
A study on the matter published in the journal Technology, Mind and Behavior noted that too much close-up eye contact is highly intense. Seeing yourself in real-time in video calls is intense, too. Video chats drastically curtail one's usual mobility, the study notes.
Those reasons are three of four the study gives for Zoom fatigue. The fourth is a doozy: while in normal face-to-face interactions, we all give nonverbal cues, in a video chat, we have to actually work harder to get our meaning across. That work is tougher than communicating by phone, no doubt.
So why are you taking lip from your computer, reader? Shouldn't you be the boss of it?
With all due respect to Nancy Reagan — Just Say No to Video Chats.
Jonathan Barnes is a freelance writer in Pittsburgh.
Image via Peakpx.