Social Interactions In a Time of Pandemic

I’m thinking a lot about social interactions these days. When we switched to shelter-in-place, they mostly went away. As we got used to using Zoom, we added some socializing back in, and that was a lifeline during the pandemic. But there are two big issues that I, personally, have with Zoom and other online interactions:

a) sometimes there are technical difficulties (or new tech things to learn), and that can be a real barrier — if the tech experience is bad enough (Zoom-bombing of classes, for example), it can completely drown out the worthwhile part of the activity. And when you’re doing a lot of online / Zoom / etc., even a string of minor tech difficulties can get emotionally exhausting.

b) online interactions have less…depth (?) than in-person. I’m not sure depth is the right word, but I haven’t been able to come up with anything else appropriate. You get a verbal channel of communication, and a visual channel with Zoom (which is an improvement in depth over phone, although sometimes there’s enough effort to signaling ‘paying attention’ in Zoom that phone is actually easier and more rewarding), but you don’t get the in-person subtle physical cues that are happening outside of screen — and of course, you don’t have the option of adding touch.

I don’t really have a conclusion here, just thinking about the ways in which Zoom was a great blessing during the pandemic, but also deeply unsatisfying for me, as a form of social connection.

It was better than nothing, usually. Sometimes the conversations do manage to gel, and you have a great hangout with friends, or a great class. But overall, it often feels…thin. Lacking warmth.

Like eating rice cakes because you’re on a diet. It’ll sustain you (and some people genuinely like rice cakes! They could eat rice cakes all day!), but for some of us, it’s going to leave us unsatisfied at the end of the day.

I dunno. Maybe it’s just me? But I don’t think so.

Arya says: “Why do you have to worry about seeing humans when you have ME?”

(Short version of all this: I miss people.)

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