The Case of Zoom Fatigue

Attributable to the COVID-19 pandemic, standard forms of interaction, such as physical connection and sociability, have changed drastically. With mandatory mask mandates, advisable social distancing, and proposed sanitation practices as safety protocols, all prescribed to hinder the viral spread, methods of digital or virtual communication tactics skyrocketed to resume the innate human need for connection. By establishing a new sense of communicative regularities for school, work, or social life, the act of video chatting became the new normal. Particularly the rising popularity of the video conferencing app Zoom, whose profits jumped to 326% times more in 2020 compared to 2019. With the uncertainties of unprecedented times and the need for an eased alternative to concrete interaction, Zoom became a globally wide-spread, billion-dollar company. And now, in 2022, Zoom is still used as a basic form of communication, as remote learning and job performance is still a preferred option than the sole reliance of being in-person. But although the integration of Zoom in everyday life certainly has its benefits, excessively staring at your laptop screen for hours on end can lead to 'virtual burnout' or Zoom Fatigue.

As a college student with a current hybrid class schedule, evolving from a fully virtualized semester, Zoom, or any other video chatting program, is a standardized platform for all classroom contact. Group interactions became break-out room discussions, and I had to adapt to repeatedly clicking a hand-raising icon on the bottom of my laptop screen if I had a question. Initially, though I appreciated the guaranteed safeness and somewhat ease (pace-wise) of my new learning environment, the constant virtual-conferencing cycle can grow pretty old and tiring if you’re not careful.

Through being a writer and English major, I am already used to eye-strain; it comes with the lifestyle. I’m always staring at my laptop, typing mercilessly, sifting through class papers, articles, and creative projects daily. But that still doesn’t negate the fact that my eyes sometimes need a break, or I need to close my laptop and take a nap.

The stagnancy of constantly sitting in the same position to complete tasks, joining and rejoining consecutive educational or business meetings, repeated eye strain by staring at a screen for hours, and combating the urge to multitask, can all cause intense levels of exhaustion and virtual fatigue. As humans, we need some form of physical interactiveness in our everyday lives to function and improve our physical, mental, and cognitive well-being. And through the persistent routine of mostly experiencing online communication can reduce mental comprehension and attentiveness.

So, yes, Zoom Fatigue is, in fact, real.

Integrated fixes such as walking around and stretching, taking necessary breaks in between classes or meetings, asking to turn off your camera to recuperate (if it’s allowed), recharging by eating a snack or hydrating, or switching physical learning environments can help combat the overt lethargicness of virtual fatigue.

Source: BBC News

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