As group in-person meetings have been prohibited, people have been turning to video conferencing as a way to maintain some semblance of socialization, learning, recreation and sometimes even business, as they stay at home. Unthinkable even ten years ago, the surprisingly robust internet infrastructure, user-friendly devices such as iPads, and the increase in the collective comfort of the ordinary Joe or Josephine with using computers, has paved the way for videoconferencing on a massive scale.
Everyone is Zooming these days. Before the Shelter-in-Place, ordinary folk had never heard of Zoom the video conferencing company. “Zoom what?” you might have said. “Isn’t that a kid’s card game?” But now when a group wants to meet via videoconferencing, everyone just says, “Okay, who can host on Zoom and please email me the link?” I remember being in the San Jose Airport last August and noticing signs for Zoom Conferencing because they had the catchy slogan, “Meet Happy.” Little did I realize that less than a year later, this obscure Tech company I thought used only by business people would become an indispensable household name like Hoover, Kleenex and Kitchenaid. Now I and my fellow Shelter-in-Placers are Zoom experts. We may not be meeting “happy” but Zoom is allowing us to “Meet Safely.” Using Zoom has allowed me to exercise with my trainer, stretch in yoga class, attend my memoir writing group, and even shuffle away in tap dancing class, all while sequestered safely at home. Of course, Zoom meetings have not been without their challenges. Dropped calls, frozen faces, weird echoes, music feedback and the one person forgetting to mute themselves while opening their potato chip bag and inadvertently dominating the Speaker View—all these are common technical difficulties while Zooming. But the Zoom technology works more often than not, and the live human interaction virtually by videoconference,is…well… while not quite chicken soup for the soul…. at least it is a very thin broth. And that is better than no soul food at all.
Submitted by Margaret Ma, Santa Clara County
Editor’s Note: This is one of a series. The links to all twelve parts are: Syllabus, Lesson 1, Lesson 2, Lesson 3, Lesson 4, Lesson 5, Lesson 6, Lesson 7, Lesson 8, Lesson 9, Lesson 10, and Final Exam.