The virtual meeting platform Zoom has boomed since the onset of Covid. The Guardian, a British newspaper, states that its revenue has more than doubled from the same time the year before. Many users love the site; others abhor it. Reasons for both opinions abound and often overlap: convenience, no commuting to work, viewing all participants; inconvenience of technology, lack of personal interaction at the water-cooler, viewing all participants.

During a Zoom class about George Eliot’s Middlemarch, the host asked all participants to disable the microphone and video option to lessen the distraction quotient. Who doesn’t check out each other’s Hollywood Squares-ish windows? Wasn’t he wearing that same shirt yesterday? I didn’t know she had blonde hair. All these people look bored and tired. And, of course, we check out our own images. Oh, my God, is that a zit?!

Most participants followed directions and blacked out, but some — probably out of Zoom illiteracy — had not. When only a few videos play on an otherwise darkened screen, those individuals’ head turns, sitting position, eating and drinking, ad nauseam, do indeed distract. Yet sometimes we get a close-up of a life: A man rubs under his dog’s chin. A woman with short grey hair, styled a la Joan of Arc, bows her head, (maybe searching for how to turn off her video) when a blue-jeaned older man shows up behind her, leans over and kisses the top of her head, then moves out of camera’s view. Another person shoos a child from the room.

This summer I had tuned in to a virtual writing workshop, which did not use Zoom but in its stead a platform called Whova. (Anti-ad: Stay away from Whova.) I’m not sure if the poet running the workshop chose to, but we could only see him; once in a while the co-host’s image would pop up when she spoke. For a viewer, this resulted in a very disjointed, impersonal experience, a headless, voiceless one. At least on the Middlemarch Zoom, we could read names and know that a person existed behind the tiny exed-out microphones. During real in-person workshops the human body in all its permutations adds to the writing being discussed. I recall a gifted poet in my graduate program who read his work in a gentle voice and rhythmic cadence; he gesticulated with his right hand, forming a circle with his middle finger and thumb; he paused slightly at each line-break. It was hypnotic yet also liberating, if that makes sense. The rest of us wanted him to read our poems.

Zoom poses some important social questions. Do we secretly love the voyeurs within us? Will Zoom change forever the nature of group communication? How does it affect our focus with its standard forty minute play; is it just another bit of technology that shortens our attention span? And, finally, how does it determine our social personae? These issues need to be examined, because with no end to Covid and its variants in sight, Zoom is here to stay.

viagra kopen zonder recept