COVID-19 has drastically changed our world. And though social distancing keeps us tucked away safely at home, it’s also dramatically changing how we interact with others. Virtual meetings are replacing contact with officemates, classmates, friends, and family. Who could have imagined that 2020 would find us joining the virtual world just to go to happy hours, family holiday gatherings, or even trivia night?
Videoconferencing has long been a staple in the business world—connecting teleworkers and office workers across the globe. And though those same office workers have been complaining about too many meetings that really could have been handled with a simple email, everyone seems to be flocking to virtual meetings in this strange new era of social distancing.
Over the past several weeks, I’ve noticed that every virtual meeting—no matter the purpose (work, class, social)—has had a similar cast of characters…Do you recognize anyone from your Zoom meetings?
The “I have no idea how to use technology” person—This person connects to the call and immediately starts pushing buttons on screen and yelling loudly into her microphone…. “Hello? Hello? Can anyone hear me?” To which everyone else usually responds with “Yes, we can definitely hear you!” And it’s this same person who often has no idea how to mute the mic when someone else is speaking. You can sometimes hear her breathing, carrying on other conversations, or in a case that I actually experienced with a former coworker—hear him snoring! This person is probably the same one who routinely hits “reply all” on group emails…only in the virtual world, she is “replying all” via her mic…all the damn time!
The “social butterfly”—This super-friendly person knows everyone on the call and makes it her business to connect…with everyone. She’s the officemate who normally buzzes about from desk to desk, collecting and sharing stories. Now, she’s the one carrying on the conversation at the start of every meeting, engaging others, and making sure everyone feels welcome and included. She’s also the one crafting the witty running dialogue in the comments section during the meeting. But she may also be the one most craving social contact and feeling the most isolated these days, too.
The “fashionista”—This person dresses up and shows out as if she were reporting to the office or joining the party. She actually gets showered, puts on makeup and jewelry, and dons carefully-chosen, appropriate apparel—at least from the waist up—unlike most of us who have resorted to wearing a daily uniform of comfy yoga pants and an oversized sweatshirt!
“No paparazzi, please”—This is the person who usually blames “a poor connection” for not turning on her video. There could be a million reasons why that camera is turned off—she didn’t shower, she’s multitasking, her office is a wreck, or she just has a really hard time controlling her eye rolling when certain people are speaking! No matter the reason, she has no intention of letting you see her in her natural habitat.
If you’ve joined the virtual meeting bandwagon, chances are that you’ll recognize at least one of these characters. In fact, you may already be assembling your own cast and putting names and faces to these characters.
And maybe you, too, are already coming to the same conclusion that so many others already have about virtual meetings…it turns out most of them actually could have been handled with emails after all!