It turns out that there is a scientific reason why you hate Zoom
We are a year into the pandemic, almost a year of family parties canceled or changed seriously, and we have masks so far. While the vaccine is spreading across the nation, we are still socially distanced, so the business is certainly not going on as usual. Which means Zoom meetings are here to stay. It has been a year of asking other participants to mute or unmute. A year of learning more about our colleagues decorating preferences than we ever thought possible. And we̵
everything goes smoothly until someone asks you to turn off the sound on your zoom: pic.twitter.com/NxE7KtRpGO
– DIVE Studios (@thedivestudios) February 27, 2021
Jeremy Bailenson of the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab recently published a study on the mental impact of spending hours a day on Zoom and other popular video chat platforms.
The result: Four problems, as Bailenson says, stem from a year of video calling. Or what we often call “Zoom fatigue.”
Four reasons why you hate Zoom
Problem: Extreme amounts of close contact with the eye are intense.
The amount of eye contact we include in video chats, as well as the size of the faces on screens is abnormal. At a typical conference, people will look around the room. But with Zoom calls, everyone looks at everyone – all the time. Listeners become speakers because people stare at you, even when you are not speaking.
Solution: Bailenson recommends changing the zoom from the full screen setting and reducing the size of the zoom window. He also suggests using an external keyboard to allow an increase in the personal space bubble between himself and the web.
Problem: Prolonged episodes of seeing yourself on video are tiring.
Most video platforms show a square of how you look on camera during a discussion. But it’s unnatural, Bailenson said. “In the real world, if someone was constantly following you around with a mirror – then while talking to people, making decisions, giving feedback, getting feedback – you saw yourself in a mirror, it would just be crazy. No one would ever consider it, ”he added.
The interruption is jarring and relentless – and can be extended to our voices, as one Twitter user notes.
My video on My voice to
zoom zoom pic.twitter.com/VvhZfRC55L
– lune ❦ (@lunebat) February 27, 2021
Solution: Bailenson suggests that video conferencing platforms change the standard practice of streaming video to both presenters and viewers when it is only to be sent to viewers. Presenters can use the “hide self-view” button, which you can do by right-clicking on your own photo.
Problem: Video chats significantly reduce our ability to move.
Personal chats and phone chats allow people to move around. But with Zoom, most people have to stay in the same place, otherwise the camera focus is thrown away. This means that your movement is limited in ways that do not feel natural.
Solution: Bailenson recommends that people consider the room they are chatting in. When sitting away from the screen, one can go and doodle in virtual conversations just as we do in face-to-face meetings. You can also turn the video off every now and then – it gives you a short nonverbal rest.
Problem: The cognitive load is much higher in video chats.
Bailenson notes that in typical face-to-face interaction, nonverbal communication is natural. But in video calls, we work harder to convey and receive signals. The study says that movements can mean different things in a video context. A glance sideways at someone during a personal meeting means something very different than an individual on a chat grid looking off-screen at their dog who was just starting to scratch the door.
We can all relate – it is exhausting to constantly scan and think about non-verbal communication.
I think I’ve had too many # zoom calls this week. pic.twitter.com/X2FTXSkBMa
– Kristin Kisska, author (@KKMHOO) February 27, 2021
Solution: Be sure to give yourself a “sound only” break during long meetings. “This is not just turning off your camera to take a break from being non-verbally active, but also to remove your body from the screen,” Bailenson said, “so you don’t get suffocated for a few minutes with movements that are perceptually realistic but socially meaningless. ”
Bailenson continues his research into video consumption. If you are interested in measuring your own Zoom fatigue, you can take the study here and participate in the research project.
What do you say? Do you experience zoom fatigue?