We look so ordinary. So normal. Siting at our desks or reclining graciously on or in our beds.
You see little pictures on the screen and the green box illuminates around a speaker. The host invites you to contribute and you unmute. If you remember.
Then…as you wait for a fluent stream of words, and wait, and hope, and pray that the words will come for the struggling thinker you can see…then you remember that a diseased brain is invisible.
You meet new people on ZOOM, people who have dementia and who look just like anyone looks, of course. But ZOOM catches them out, because suddenly they are ‘on camera’, with the red record button glaring at them, and a dozen or more people listening for their pearls of wisdom, and sentences, and ideas…and…and…
Nothing. Or a hesitant phrase or two.
It really is challenging.
If you have something to say, a fleeting thought flits in and you need to get it said…and then it drifts away again. You try to get it back, to find it amongst the crowd of odds and ends and tadpoles that swim around…you go back to something you remember being said, and retrace the path from those words, hoping the trail will reappear and lead you back to that flitting, fanciful idea you had, but have lost again…
(What is the collective name for tadpoles? A mess of tadpoles?)
And all the time the camera stares at you, and you colour up, that tingle of sweat arrives, you start to wonder about what others think of your inability to get the words out, and…
You give up and mute yourself again. And probably you don’t try to say anything else.
You watch and listen and think of past times, good times, times when you could hold a room, an audience, a meeting…
But they are gone.
You are still the same person, but let’s not pretend that any of us can do the same as during our working lives. As another zoomette friend said today, we move into a new world, into new lives, as we join DEEP groups and meetings. Friends who get it. Away from care partners who are tired. Away from long years of patterns that may have become stale, or just habitual.
ZOOM has two sides, like Janus. One is positive, fun and useful. One is negatively awful, dark and lost.
Which side will come up today at the toss of the coin?
One day a friend is giggling and joking and expansive…another, she is lost, eyes closed, hesitant and reluctant. She disappears from the screen, and I know she has retired to a quiet, restful place, to regain composure and peace of mind.
I have become intolerant of meetings that lose my interest. And the same happens on ZOOMs.
Watching a film in a cinema, that thing we used to do once upon a time, looking at your watch is a sure sign of second rateness. B listing.
The same happens to me during ZOOMies. At a certain point I wonder what’s on my whatsapp. Or check email. Or check the time. And that’s when I either send a message about a new subject and try to lead it elsewhere, or I give up in my mind.
I’m sure I am not alone in this.
I also find meetings of more than nine ZOOMers impossible to follow easily, or at all. They don’t all fit one ipad page! So people can speak and I don’t know who they are, and I lack the contextual knowledge of what I might expect from them. As important as facial expressions.
Everything said has a context, a history, an underlying attitude. When I studied English Literature at university I really didn’t get structuralism and marxist analysis. I think I do now.
(If only I could be young again…)
So lacking the underlying context and attitude prevents understanding and emotional empathy…these are rarely virtual!
Virtual meetings are amazing and becoming part of life. Great for contact. And ideas. But in these days of sunlit darkness I miss the face to face chat and joke and satire and irony and rudeness and general chaos of our usual, less frequent real meetings.
There are others, bless you, who love this chaos. It shows through. And long may it.
Chaos. Disruption. Wonderful.
Of course I like the seriousness of discussing subjects that matter. But…
I am truly tired of seriousness about subjects that I cannot change or influence.