Monday, May 25, 2020


What huge lessons we've had to learn, these past weird weeks!  What new words have come into our vocabulary, what new skills we have had to master!

I've never had much interest in technology, I'm ashamed to say. Over the years I've been dragged relentlessly into doing all sorts of things on the internet and have found many of them useful - indeed, indispensable. I can repeat operations when I've been shown what to do, in much the same way I managed quadratic equations - without having the faintest understanding of them - and if I haven't performed them for a while I am lost. (Again, much like seeing a quadratic equation now and marveling that I ever even knew how to begin.)

When something goes wrong all I can do is scream, for instance to Rick who, bless him, sorted out my next weekend's guest post for me when HTML turned into gobbledegook, or to my husband who is much more skillful than I am.

Like, I suspect, many of you,  the big technological leap I have had to take recently has been to take part in Zoom meetings.  This week alone I have joined Zooms of three different sorts - one  professional, a formal directors' committee meeting; one a social group; one a family chat - and it's prompted quite a lot of different thoughts.

The first is how awful it is to have to see myself on screen.  I look truly terrible and though I try to cheer myself up by observing that people whom I know are perfectly nice-looking look bad as well, I still feel I look even worse and it's utterly demoralizing. 

The second, reflecting on the committee meeting, is that it's depersonalizing too. Several people made observations that were hurtful to someone present, in a way I'm quite sure they wouldn't have done if we were sitting round a table, looking each other in the eye.  Compromises are much more difficult to reach when you can't engage in direct communication.  Certainly you can get business done, but there is a serious cost.

The social group was admittedly stilted but was pleasant enough.  Here the problem was technical - quite often the yellow line round the gallery picture to tell you who is speaking was slow to activate and since for some reason the gallery pictures keep dotting around rather than staying in the same place, the conversation got a bit jumbled.  I have to say, though, that it was great for reaching out to people who may have been feeling isolated and would welcome the chance for a cheerful gossip.

The third Zoom meeting was pure joy.  My little grandson is thirteen months and hasn't taken any interest during previous Zooms.  Yesterday for the first time he realized suddenly that we were speaking to him and that he could speak back to us.  And boy, he did! he babbled all the time, not just random sounds but what he clearly thinks are observations, pausing to look for signs of understanding and then, as if feeling a little unconvinced about by our ability to understand words, amplifying his points using sign language.  We went on to waving, blowing kisses, clapping and playing peekaboo while we all shrieked with laughter.   It's not the same as getting a cuddle but it's a lot better than nothing.

It's amazing what technology has done.  Crime panels and festivals on line have kept readers and authors in contact; programmes on TV are being patched together by individuals working in their own homes. I'm sure that if this goes on long enough  technology will come up with new and ever more sophisticated techniques. But I have to say I fervently hope they won't have to.

1 comment:

Rick Blechta said...

Video get-togethers with our relatives during the pandemic have been a real godsend, and far better than phone calls. Other than my wife and I, our two sons, and our second son's family, we have no relatives close by anyway. I had a chat with my cousins on Sunday (only one was missing) and all seven of us were present and it was just so nice to see them all.

It's one positive thing that's come out of our current situation: we would never have done this before. And it's about time we all reconnected. Even if there was no pandemic, it would be difficult to get together. These video apps make it pretty easy.