Life has been more stressful during COVID-19 caused by my lack of technological knowledge regarding Zoom, the socially distant method of attending meetings. I use a computer like many other “older” adults; for games and Facebook, ordering on Amazon, sending e-mails and looking up information. Face Time has been used when my son from California calls and it just involves clicking on the “accept” icon and my darling granddaughter’s front toothless smile fills up the screen like a Halloween pumpkin. In my naiveté, it seemed that it would be just as easy to participate in a Zoon meeting…click on the “accept” link. NOT SO EASY!
I have to search to find the proper e-mail with the link to the meeting. Sometimes the link works fine, sometimes it doesn’t. When it DOES work fine, my own face pops up on the screen, ostensibly to make sure my hair is okay and the image presented would not horrify the other Zoom participants. Then the video and audio icons are pressed and voila, I am in the meeting. Because I am an obsessively on time person, it is usually only the chairperson and I on the screen, and we make chit chat as others try to join. Some of them are successful, and some not. Sometimes we can hear them but not see them, often we can see them and not hear them. Often their faces are upside down or sideways. Sometimes their lighting is so dim they look like ghosts lurking in the background, or so bright they look angels surrounded by halos. After twenty minutes of the hour long meeting has been consumed with participant admittance, finally all are aboard!
Casual clothing is generally worn. Sometimes the women make themselves more comfortable by not wearing a bra. (I admire their courage, but would be too embarrassed to emulate.) It is also doubtful that people are fully dressed on their bottom halves, (hello shorts and pajama bottoms that are not seen by the camera!) Hairstyles are more casual, especially during these times of limited ability to get a haircut. Guys have started to sport ponytails to tame their excessively long hair.
The décor is also noticeable. Participants have lovely pictures of their family on the walls behind them, or a bookshelf chock-full of intellectual tomes. The wall behind my computer was bare, with a small hole in it from the nail on which a previous picture perched. I finally purchased an awesome, colorful but classy canvas with the saying “Let’s Just Stay Home.” PERFECT for a home Zoom meeting!
Prior to having my computer in a room with a wall behind it, it had been in the living room facing the television. This meant that people could walk behind me and still obliviously be seen on camera. One evening during a late meeting, Hubby walked behind my chair buck naked to take a shower in the nearby bathroom. His neck was adorned with a large bath towel, which would have been better placed adorning something else. Then there was the time that my son, Steven, was arguing with someone on his phone and every swear word could be heard by my meeting companions before I could press the mute button. I quickly learned to move the computer into a private room with a door that shuts.
One recent hot day, I wore a sleeveless, tiger striped dress for a Zoom meeting. I must have been sitting back in the chair because when the screen came on, it was immediately filled with tiger stripes. My tiny head was in the background and it looked like my striped chest area was HUGE. I had never met the other participants so I couldn’t even joke about it. Hopefully, I will never see them again… Therefore, my major advice during a Zoom meeting, which is even more important that the audio or the video, the background or the lighting…is don’t wear tiger stripes!