In the middle of this pandemic I am reminded how it feels to simultaneously love and hate something. Thanks, Zoom! It’s been a while since I’ve had this love/hate feeling. After all, my kids have not been teenagers for quite some time.
I love Zoom. I really do. I love seeing with my own eyes that my children are healthy and happy in their own apartments. I love seeing their workspaces, I love watching them as they make a new Instapot creation for dinner, I love seeing what creative cocktail they have concocted for our Zoom Forced Family Fun evenings. I love seeing my friends, sharing a virtual bourbon, being warmed by their smiles, hearing about what is going on in their lives and discussing the miserable state of the world until someone wisely decides it’s time to talk about something more pleasant. I love my Zoom book club and I love playing Codenames by Zoom with friends from all over the country for hours at a time. Zoom gives me plenty of opportunity for laughter, which is a precious commodity these days.
Perhaps because I don’t sit in front of a computer all day or Zoom for work, and (just like everyone else) I have a very limited in-person social life, my heart flutters a bit when I receive a Zoom invitation. “Lookie here!”, I think as I open my email, “I’ve been invited to something!” I give myself a pat on the back for being someone worthy of a video chat.
I enjoy being invited so much that I usually request that other people initiate the Zoom call (in this regard, it does not seem to be a problem because the few people I know who are more technologically disadvantaged than I are either dead or wouldn’t go near a video call to begin with.) But I like being an invitee, with a choice to accept or reject the invite. Though I would never, never ever, reject an invite because that would be super rude given that we have all agreed on the time and date by text or email.
All the same, it is somehow satisfying to have the appearance of choice these days. Besides, being the inviter involves a bit of risk of rejection. What? You said you were available then! How could you have forgotten? What could be more important than our limited time together? You have something ELSE to do?
But as much as I love Zoom, I also hate Zoom. Once the invite has been offered up to me, when the Zoom date and time looms, when it becomes apparent that I then will have to participate on a date and time certain, I feel a bit put out. I was invited? Wow, I am flattered! I have to actually go to the party? Damn.
I hate Zoom because it means I have to take my pajama tops off and put on a decent top. I feel bad about my hair. I look ugly without makeup. How did I get so old looking? On one Zoom call, my mother-in-law remarked, “Ronna, look at your hair! How did it get so gray?” Never mind that I have been totally gray for about four years, I cried just the same.
You invited me in, and the invitation was really quite enough, thank you. Do we have to talk in a group? We never used to talk in a group! I will make the time to call you all individually. I promise. I’ve got nothing else on my plate these days.
I hate Zoom because it can be maddeningly frustrating. Once, I could not get admitted to a Zoom meeting because I kept reading two of the numbers on the Zoom ID backwards. The same two numbers, over and over again, perhaps subconsciously trying to will those numbers to be what I wanted (911, not 191). I don’t think I have Dyslexia, tub now I am not so sure. Or perhaps it’s the beginning of Alzheimer’s. Or perhaps it’s the beginning of Alzheimer’s. Either way, Zoom ruined my evening.
But usually it is other people that I find intolerable. Yeah, I’m impatient and irritable, but aren’t we all these days?
How many times have you just wanted to scream when someone puts a fake background on their Zoom that makes it look like they are trying to beam up to the Starship Enterprise. From outer space, or from the house featured in the Oscar winning Parasite (clever, I admit) or from a Caribbean beach or whatever, they all piss me off. They shimmer, they fade in and out, and you’re secretly hoping that they get lost in space. And even more annoying are the people actually broadcasting from some warm climate with a beach and palm trees. Oops, that’s me. So sorry for that.
How many times have you just wanted to scream at your technologically challenged friend who can’t quite get it right?
“In this instant, I actually hate that woman”, I thought to myself one evening, walking all the way to the other side of the boat (about 10 feet) while my husband garnered all the patience he had trying to explain where the red button is that mutes, or that we can actually hear her eating the Doritos, or that we can only see half her head, when we have explained the exact same things during the last three Zoom calls.
How many times have you wanted to say to someone who volunteers to initiate the phone call on his or her corporate account, “No. That is not a good idea. Forty minutes will be just fine for us. Actually, 10 minutes will be quite enough.” It would be rude, I know, to suggest that a limited time together is preferred, but I would pay extra for a Zoom account that cuts everyone off after 15 minutes. I see our time is running out. Talk soon!
I hate Zoom because it is so difficult to extricate yourself from a group video chat. These video calls seem to have a life of their own. I need to go to the bathroom, and everyone will hear me flush (the Supreme Court has made it abundantly clear that this is unacceptable behavior). I want to eat a handful (or 10 handfuls) of those mini York peppermint patties I have stowed at the bottom of the freezer without anyone seeing (it has been 40 minutes without them, after all.) I have been holding in a large fart for way too long now and when it explodes, will they hear? Will they see the relief in my eyes? There are no excuses for leaving an impossibly long Zoom call early. You and I both know I have nowhere to be.
Zoom is my lifeline and the bane of my existence. It is a connection in the time of no connection, and at the same time it is awkward, tiresome, and miserable.
Please, my friends, forgive me this rant, as I have not slept well lately. Please don’t stop inviting me in, because while I hate Zoom, I love you all. Truly, I do.