Zoom is teaching us why video phones never took off

Today, it was hard to pay attention to the content of a Zoom conference call. One visitor joined by phone. She apparently didn’t know her camera was on. She was doing many things that were interesting, or at least distracting.

Other attendees were treated to watching her browse used car listings. Later, we found out what her bedroom looks like. We knew when she was bored, yawning while sprawled on a bed next to someone with no pants on. We found out what her kids look like, especially the boy who spent a few minutes staring intently at all of us.

Meetings with many people are already hard in person. But in person, you can only get away with so much because we are all painfully aware we can be observed. On video conferencing, it’s easy to forget or to just mess up a setting and inadvertently be broadcasting.

Video phones were going to be all the rage. Sci fi movies always made the phones have video. There’s a scene from Aliens where Ripley calls Burke to say she agrees to go on the mission. Burke answers, shirtless and wiping grit from his eyes. Only in fiction. None of us want to do that.

When we are on the phone, we still want to be able to walk around, pick our noses, use the restroom. Video forces us to not multitask out the mindless activities and runs a high risk of being embarrassingly revealing. This is totally okay. And it means no, video phones aren’t going to be the default. And that seems also totally okay.

Got a fun story to share about a camera someone didn’t know was on?

2 thoughts on “Zoom is teaching us why video phones never took off”

  1. So many ZOOM meetings lately that has trained me to be more in professionalization since it is sending out my image as a business woman. Only God knew how restless I was wanting to poke my nose during meetings. “Mindfulness” and “Self Control” come handy at times like this.


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