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The whole world has become one, single Zoom generation.  Old talk to young – well, as long as the young set it up – and we have all learned to chat with an inbuilt response delay.  We have all grown used to the ‘You’re breaking up.  No, I said breaking up.  You’re… Oh, she’s gone.  I can still see her.  Has she muted?  Have you muted?  I said… Oh, she’s gone altogether now…’ conversations.  We have all grown used to having the quality of our internet connection questioned.  We have all grown used to having an in-depth conversation with a family member’s crotch; to being invited to view the contents of their nose whilst they try to sort it out.

This is the New Normal of only one strand of a conversation at a time; of waiting your turn; of finding that the relevance of what you had to say disappeared whilst Aunty Norma described the shattered condition of her bowels; of finding that your killer punch-line has just lost its feed.  It is also the time of seeing yourself as everybody else sees you: of hearing your own voice and realising quite how like an exceedingly camp country bumpkin you sound (although, maybe that’s just me).  Nobody wants to see themselves talking – it’s just not natural is it?  If God had wanted us to enjoy seeing ourselves talking, he wouldn’t have invented Michael McIntyre.  (I’m not entirely certain what I mean by that.)

Zoom has also become the go-to family quiz medium and, as a nation, perhaps as a planet, we have never needed to know what the Patagonian flag looks like as much as we have over the last few months.  Zoom has become the medium by which the Family Smart-Arse has been uncovered and reviled.  If you are that person – and you will know if you are – don’t think you can mend the damage you wreaked by accusing grandma of cheating and having the Reader’s Digest Compendium at her side, by deliberately getting the Rick Astley question wrong.  You cannot.  Being the last to close down the connection will not stop everyone talking about you.

Zoom also means that you cannot disguise the fact that you haven’t crawled out of your pyjamas all day and that you really are eating cornflakes out of Aunty Doreen’s Royal Dalton wedding present.  ‘What are you eating?’ is the general starting point of every conversation, followed by the more detailed inquisition of whether they deliver, do they charge for prawn crackers and is the batter gluten-free?   Such Zoom conversations often take wings, drifting off into questions as diverse as, ‘What did you eat yesterday?’ and ‘What are you eating tomorrow?’  It is never long before all involved are comparing gin and tonics.

The nuclear family has been dissipated and our current travails have, in some ways, dragged us back together.  Our own family Zoom evenings have resulted in gatherings of such number that the lights dim all over the village.  We get together weekly in numbers that we would have formerly gathered together only on Christmas Day – and nobody is stressed over the bread sauce, the dishwasher has not coughed thirty litres of sludge over the kitchen floor, and little Billy has not swallowed the plastic toy out of Uncle Norman’s un-pulled cracker. 

It is very odd how a pandemic, bent on driving us further apart, has actually pulled us closer together.  How we have all discovered that we can easily manage a couple of hours with the in-laws when we don’t have to actually share the same room.  How we have discovered that the grandkids understand the limitations of the internet even less than we do.  How we have all discovered that we can detect the ‘beep’ of somebody else’s dishwasher through the hubbub of twenty consecutive conversations, three different channels on the TV and the stutter of somebody’s connection as they simultaneously try to stream Game of Thrones and Love Island Revisited*.  A zoom lens makes things appear to be much closer than they actually are.  For a short time, a Zoom conversation, brings us spiritually closer.  It is the only silver lining I can find in our current cloud, but it is one we wouldn’t have had twenty years ago…

*I think I just made that up.  Unless anyone can prove otherwise, please consider it copyright.

Oh, and just to prove to James that I actually have no musical taste whatsoever, the music playing in the background as I finish this piece is Zoom by the Electric light Orchestra, and I’m not even going to apologise for it… 

Yesterday, for the first time in a long time, I had not a single view. I did not publish anything, but they are quite often my best days. Makes you think, doesn’t it? Oh well, I suppose I’ll have to keep on prattling after all…

6 thoughts on “Zoom

  1. Well, that’s decided, I’m staying well away from Zoom. Sounds terrifying.

    And I quite often have days when no one visits my blog, I didn’t realise that meant maybe I should stop prattling. Clearly you should keep going or I shall have to stop too. Prattlers unite! 🙂

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  2. ‘Game of Thrones’ AND ‘Love Island Revisited?’ Someone seriously needs their head or feed cut off. Zoom does literally cause pause for thought though, to be fair.

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