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OPINION: Fed up of Zoom? Me too

By Sarah Finnan

May 15, 2020 at 3:53pm

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I don't know about you but I'm bloody FED UP of Zoom.

Phone calls, FaceTime, Skype all of those technology-focused ways of keeping in contact were never really for me - I'm more of a quick voice note/text message and meet up kind of gal. I'm not really sure why I dislike video calls/talking on the phone so much but I think it comes down to the fact that it seems unnatural. Which is probably because it is... duh.

But when faced with that or nothing, well, I'll obviously opt for the former.

As a self-dubbed ambivert (I tend to be more introverted but every now and then my inner extrovert pops her head to the surface), I relish my quiet, alone time... but if there's one thing that social distancing has taught me, it's that there's truth to the 'no man is an island' mentality.

I like quiet time when it's on my own terms, not because I'm forced into it and have no other choice, and so I've been rebelling against the system (to my own detriment might I add) by spending much of my free time on the internet catching up with friends... a hobby that was fun and novel at first, but that has slowly become draining and led to burnout. Don't get me wrong, I love my friends and miss them dearly but talking to a screen, staring into my laptop camera has gotten old fast. Add in the fact that no one has anything new to tell of, a poor WiFi connection (#countryliving) and nowhere private to make the call in the first place and well you don't have a winning combination, now do you?

Another grievance I have with socialising in quarantine? The lack of spontaneity. Everything is planned - from the date to the time to the 'night on the town' theme.  There's no room for spur of the moment and everything feels much more definite. The thought of committing to socialising for a specified period of time puts me off the whole affair altogether and I often find myself in a huff over nothing at all. Pulling off an Irish exit on Zoom is much more difficult a task, lest you blame it on a low battery but even then there's the expectation that you'll pop back on as soon as you're plugged in.

Everyone is reconnecting these days, or at least it seems that way. And up until recently when I was talking to a friend of mine, who also happens to be a nurse, I never really thought about how isolating that can be. Especially for healthcare workers - many of whom have no time or are simply too tired to paste a smile on their face and show up for the Friday night Zoom quiz.

When asked her thoughts on this new way of socialising, she said:

"As a healthcare worker, trying to keep up with friends now is just as difficult... if not harder. Doing nights and extra shifts to cover sick leave, it's hard to find the time to reconnect. There's also a lot of pressure on social media to be having Zoom quiz nights or virtual catchups. Anytime I go on Instagram, there are always pictures of friends on Zoom and I feel like I'm missing out.

In a way, it's great that old friends are getting back in touch and there's more time to catch up with people but trying to coordinate a day that suits everyone in the group is difficult.

It can be quite isolating as a healthcare worker, even if I did find the time to catch up with friends, I'm exhausted and done with socialising after a busy shift or trying to readjust to the real world again after a week of night shifts.

There's just a lot of pressure to be constantly connecting with people, more so now than before lockdown as everyone is at home and so accessible online."

Intrigued as to whether this is a common feeling amongst healthcare workers, and people my age in general, I asked some of my other friends their thoughts. Some agreed, some only partly agreed, some said quite the opposite.

While one felt pressured to partake, another did so merrily - dubbing her online world a welcome distraction to everything that's going on.

"I very much enjoy the quizzes and games and stuff like that, they just completely distract you from anything going on and you can forget about the pandemic and everything is just good innocent fun again."

Time didn't seem so much of a worry for friend number two, who said that the only time she can't join in is when she's on nights and "has no life at all".

What if she doesn't feel up to it?  "Sometimes my brain just needs to see and hear from nobody but in that case, I just say no." I could probably learn a thing or two from friend number two - saying no seems like a foreign concept to me, particularly when in quarantine and I have quite literally nowhere else to go and nothing else to do. "Sometimes the chat can wear you out if all people talk about is Covid-19 and all the bad stories people have. I know people have very little else to talk about when nobody is doing anything but it's all we talk about at work and all our families ask us about and it's all social media talks about and then sometimes I just do not want to hear the words Covid/coronavirus/pandemic."

Several others echoed her sentiments with the common thread seeming to be that while people are very much over Zoom and online socialising in general, it's a way of life most have resigned themselves to accepting. Socialising is as much a part of our new 'quar-lives' as it was our pre-lockdown ones and I think that the real 'aha-moment' will come when we manage to balance it all.

Moderation is the key. We hear it time and time again and, unsurprisingly, this rings true for our online social life as well. You'd think that after eight weeks I'd have it down to a fine art, but as with everything else, it's an adjustment - one we'll all grow used to with time. Bottom line? Be selfish with your time - FaceTime when you feel like it, nap when you don't. Prioritise yourself and get by however you can. Here's to thriving, not just surviving.

Thank you for coming to my Ted talk.

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READ NEXT: Five tiny tweaks for a healthier lockdown without the sacrifice

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