Monday, May 18, 2020

Machines Came Awake

I'm logging more screen time nowadays than I used to. There's the usual checking of the phone first thing in the morning and throughout the day to see what friends and strangers are up to on social media. Then there's email on my work computer, and usually at least one Zoom meeting but often more than that. Sometimes I'll watch TV in the evenings, although it's not likely if I've done a lot of Zooming that day. If that's the case, the last thing I want to do is look at another screen.

Since this pandemic began, a term has emerged for those who have to do a lot of online meetings called "Zoom fatigue." It's the phenomenon of feeling exhausted after a lot of Zoom calls:
Being on a video call requires more focus than a face-to-face chat, says Petriglieri. Video chats mean we need to work harder to process non-verbal cues like facial expressions, the tone and pitch of the voice, and body language; paying more attention to these consumes a lot of energy. “Our minds are together when our bodies feel we're not. That dissonance, which causes people to have conflicting feelings, is exhausting. You cannot relax into the conversation naturally,” he says.
There's a lot more to it than the attention, this article says. There's a performative factor, a collapsing of different worlds--work, family, friends--onto a single medium, and the way that having to do this reminds us of the ways this disease has changed our existence.

Even more than before, we need intentional time away from all our screen machines. We need time outside, we need to talk walks, we need exercise, we need water breaks, we need meditation. We need to recharge and take care of our Zoom-fatigued bodies, minds, and spirits.

Maybe there's a way to pray during a Zoom call. If I'd seen all this coming, I could have added a chapter about that to Prayer in Motion.