Ask Answers: What Is Zoom Fatigue?
Updated: 4 June 2020 | Right now, we are seeing so much tragedy in the news. Police brutality continues in the United States as officers murder Black Americans, like George Floyd, Breonna Taylor and countless others. Journalists and protesters exercising their rights — to report the truth and to support the Black Lives Matter movement, respectively — are being met with government-sanctioned violence. The COVID-19 pandemic continues to take lives and disproportionately hurt our most vulnerable populations. Needless to say, it’s important to find ways to cope and prioritize your mental health. Although it feels essential to connect with family, friends and peers — to organize around causes, to share information, or simply to stay in touch and check in — video conferencing is undoubtedly another source of the mental and emotional drain many are feeling. While this article aims to answer the question “What Is Zoom Fatigue?”, we understand that’s not the biggest concern on anyone’s mind right now. Hopefully, though, learning about video conferencing’s impact on mental health helps you cope a little bit better.
Remember that Skype ringtone that would chime delightfully through your laptop’s speakers when you tried to get someone on the line? A decade ago, that video chat service seemed destined to become the Google of its domain — so synonymous with video conferencing that it became a verb when you wanted to "skype" someone. However, in the last few years the video conferencing competition has become fierce. While Skype seemed to have a horse in both races — professional workplace chat services and social video chatting — other services emerged, carving out specific niches. For example, FaceTime became the go-to social video chat service. It’s more immediate, easy to use, right in the palm of your hand and, best of all, designed to be quick — like a phone call.
Meanwhile, Zoom, which launched its software in 2013, aimed to become the platform for teleconferencing, telecommuting and distance learning. In the wake of increased shelter-in-place directives and work-from-home initiatives sparked by the COVID-19 pandemic, Zoom became a way to connect socially too. If you, your friends and your family are all using a platform for telecommuting, why not just use that same platform to virtually socialize as well? But even before the COVID-19 pandemic hit, Zoom’s ease-of-use and reliability resulted in a $1 billion valuation in 2017. Recently, the "unicorn" company joined the NASDAQ-100 stock index on April 30, 2020. Perhaps more impressively, Zoom has become the stand-in, brand-name verb that’s synonymous with video conferencing.
Why Is Video Chatting So Draining?
While platforms like Zoom, which offers a free version of its communication service, have proven to be invaluable resources during the novel coronavirus pandemic, there are some downsides to using this type of technology. Of course, the upsides — being able to work and learn remotely and safely from home; hosting events, like happy hours, birthday parties, religious gatherings and even weddings; and connecting with friends and family face-to-face — outweigh any negatives. Still, it’s becoming more and more apparent that video chatting, even for just a few minutes a day nearly every day of the week, is exhausting.
How Can We Combat Zoom Fatigue?
Perhaps one of the greatest challenges of Zoom is all that multitasking. In fact, you might not even perceive it as such, but it’s clear that video conferencing is a balancing act. Andrew Franklin, an assistant professor of cyberpsychology at Virginia’s Norfolk State University, explained to National Geographic why the multitasking factor, or as psychologists call it, "continuous partial attention," plays such a huge role in Zoom fatigue. "We’re engaged in numerous activities but never fully devoting ourselves to focus on anything in particular," Franklin notes.