Stop looking at me ! How Zoom helped me overcome my fear of phone calls | Deirdre Fidge

I’m afraid phone calls are getting stale.

Some might say there are more important things to point out – don’t worry, I’m almost certainly panicking about that too – but this new terror really surprised me.

From a shy, anxious kid turned into a shy, anxious adult (just a little taller), I’ve spent most of my life dreading phone calls. They seemed to bring out my most embarrassing idiosyncrasies, and I joined the mass of people who actively avoided phone calls.

As technology encouraged us to book online appointments, email coworkers, and text, phone calls became less of a chore to overcome and more of a symbol of the past. So while landlines now inspire the same sentimental dread of a butter churn, many of us have become enemies of the phone from generation to generation.

But now? I could talk on the phone all day and all night. Friends, family, phone scammers who regret letting me know that the IRS is actively hunting me for sports – if they’re up for a chat, I’m ready to listen! Above all, above all, if the alternative is Zoom.

My new love for phone calls is directly linked to the boom in video conferencing. In offices, it has long been a joke that “this meeting could have been an email”. The modern reiteration of this is “that Zoom could have been a phone call”. In my part-time job, some coworkers and I recently switched to a phone call instead of a Zoom meeting, and folks – that sounds like a scary vacation. A wonderful vacation looking at my own face and the kitchens of my colleagues.

If you are one of those managers who focus on KPIs, Goals and Results, you can bet your big bottom line that these calls are absolutely more productive than if we were to attempt to solve problems while simultaneously entering open competition. .

Here is a non-exhaustive list of things you can do while on the phone: walk vigorously. Write things with your human hands. Look out of a window. Go out and breathe some air that isn’t recycled from your own mouth or machine made (I don’t know how air conditioners work). Lie on your back to stretch out the thick, knotted mass of meat once called your “back.” Do a little dance. Slice a fig. Should I continue?

Conversely, here are some things you can do on Zoom. Look at your colleague without blinking. Fix your own reflection until your face becomes not that of a human but that of a strange creature that has no name. Now your face is a dark orb, sucking everything into its yawning abyss. Congratulations, you now have body dysmorphia.

Phone calls are energizing and invigorating. I feel what I imagine Alexander Graham Bell felt when he first had a thread on the blower (or Antonio Meucci, but that’s a conversation for another day). I can imagine the sensation Bell felt chatting with a dizzy friend, playing with the buttons of his shirt excitedly, learning about the effectiveness of quickly exchanged information, gossip and smallpox updates. That is to say: positively delighted.

Innovation is great, when it doesn’t involve contributing to climate change or catapulting billionaires into space, and flexible working and telehealth have opened up opportunities for people previously excluded. It is not ruled out or debated here. But please don’t let us wipe out phone calls completely.

In my freelance job, maintenance requests seem to be done automatically via Zoom or email. But never a phone call. Why, I sob, I put on makeup to hide my allergic redness, why can’t I give them a ring? Hurriedly carrying my clothes dryer to another room lest the interviewee find out that I like to wash my socks, I try to use a virtual background, but that somehow takes away from it. another all over my body and I’m floating there, a dangling speckled head, a single tear falling down my face like a drop of water on a freshly picked tomato.

During confinement, phone calls with loved ones were a saving grace. I really like the sound of people’s voices. Voice memos also allow this specific privacy. These conversations make us feel connected, elated, part of something. It’s a real dialogue with natural spontaneity and without the automatic filtering and editing that comes with texting.

It may give the impression that I have just discovered something that has been around for many years, or that I have bravely overcome something that made me very anxious. It’s actually neither. My anxiety has just been transferred to a new platform, Zoom. And in a few years, it will be the most recent and mandatory form of communication (Russian chatbot holograms?) That will keep that feeling. So, until then, call me.

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Daniel Lange

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