Paarth Madan

A medium to iterate on my own thoughts.

Video Calls

Posted at — Feb 5, 2021

The year of video calls.

At work.
At school.
At social gatherings.

I don’t find video calls particularly enticing.

Every time I join a call, there’s a person starting at me. Mimicking each gesture I do, copying every facial reaction I perform, and feeling as anxious as I do.

192x108 pixels stare at me.

The little, mirrored preview of myself is the enemy.

On video calls, I juggle between engaging in conversation and sporadically monitoring my preview.

This strains my ability to participate in conversation as best as I can.

In person, these same problems existed, but perhaps on a narrower level. I found that with little time into the conversation, I eased into the room. I could read body language and place myself, socially, within the setting.

Now, it’s rare that I can hold a genuine conversation.

The flow of the conversation – or at least how I perceive it – is interrupted by the realization of myself.

A quick glance into the corner of the screen removes me from an excellent conversation.

I go back to worrying.

I think it’s an interesting insight. In person, a true, genuine, exciting conversation is one where I forget about the notion of the self. As a result, I’m present in the conversation.

Now, I’m always reminded of the self, and thus, I’m rarely present in the conversation.

Perhaps this problem would occur in person too, granted I was followed around by a mirror.

Maybe this all speaks to my ego. I prioritize the notion of myself quite highly, and video calls are simply mirrors of this.

To conclude, let’s deprioritize this entire problem.

I’m grateful I can engage on video calls.

I’m grateful I can work from home, especially when others cannot.

I’m grateful I live in a technological age where social interaction is still possible.

I’m grateful for the friends, peers, colleagues, and professors who possibly go through similar struggles, and still show up.

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