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Zoom fatigue was real in quarantine, but as people start to leave their homes on a more regular basis and return to in-person socializing, I’m in no hurry to leave video chats behind.
Don’t get me wrong: At times I found the seemingly endless stream of Zoom webinars, Google Hangouts meetings, virtual Houseparty get-togethers, and spontaneous FaceTime calls draining while in quarantine. But there’s no denying that video technology brought us closer together at a time when we had to stay physically distant from one another. I, for one, want that closeness to continue long after quarantine ends.
Though video chats en masse can be overwhelming, the method of communication carries an unmatched convenience and can play a crucial role in strengthening relationships, enhancing your social life, and helping you conserve energy. I know by now you likely never want to video chat again, but I’m here to ask that as we attempt to reacquaint ourselves with something that resembles a pre-COVID routine, we keep video calls as a regular part of our lives.
Learning to love video chats
Before the pandemic — as I imagine was the case with many people — I rarely video chatted with friends, family members, or colleagues. I’d hop on video calls to hear important news (such as an engagement or pregnancy announcement) or exchange heartfelt greetings with out-of-state loved ones on a major holiday. Otherwise, text messages and occasional phone calls were my primary forms of communication.
When the country started to lock down in March 2020 and people became starved for human connection, that changed. During quarantine I took part in dozens of video calls, and as I look back on the ones I enjoyed the most I realize they were with people I never would have seen in person in 2020 anyways — pandemic or no pandemic.
I blew out candles on my birthday cake in front of a laptop screen that displayed smiling faces of family members in Florida, Texas, and Arizona. Had we not been in Quarantine Video Chat Mode I never would have seen those aunts, uncles, and cousins that day let alone that year. They would have sent texts or called me, but it was so much nicer to be together — even if only in a digital space.
I had regular video reunions with friends in New Jersey, Florida, and California during quarantine, too. But had it been a normal year, we simply would have communicated via iMessage group chat and waited who knows how long until a mutual event brought us all into the same room. I also video chatted with my fair share of pets in 2020, which I highly recommend to anyone ever looking for a quick mood boost.
Aside from my personal life, working remotely has been especially challenging for me, as I live in Connecticut and my office and the majority of my coworkers are in New York. Since restrictions have lifted and people have been vaccinated, many of those coworkers have reunited in person, igniting the return of my FOMO. However, video chats have helped me stay in the loop without having the make my old exhausting commute. And for that I’m grateful.
The point is: While it’s incredibly easy to keep in contact with out-of-state loved ones without video chatting, it’s nice to physically see them every so often. Video brings an added level of intimacy to conversations, and it’s not just beneficial in long-distance relationships.
Some hangouts should definitely just be video chats
Do you know how people say that some meetings could have very easily been emails? Well, I think the same can be said for certain in-person hangouts. Rather than always getting dressed, traveling to meet up with someone, and spending time and money on lunch, or coffee, or whatever, think to yourself: Should this hangout be a video chat instead?
The pandemic has taught me how crucial it is to practice self-care and conserve your energy for things that really matter, so going forward I’m going to try to be better about canceling plans when I don’t feel I have it in me to physically hang out.
I obviously miss spending time with people in person, so that will likely be my first choice, but rather than risking burnout and pushing myself to socialize when I’m tired I’ll request a video chat substitution so we’ll still have the opportunity to catch up face to face.
Do I want to video chat with people all the time? Hell, freaking no! But do I think that video calls should remain a regular part of life post-quarantine and not solely be reserved for life during a pandemic? Absolutely.
The technology proved itself to be indispensable — albeit tiring — in 2020, but if we integrate it into our daily lives on our terms we can find that perfect personal balance.