I was never much of a fan of video chats before all this. I found it disconcerting seeing my own face on the screen with all its kinks and creases and weird expressions. And when the calls involved my children, there was always the chance they’d get so distracted with their own faces they’d forget to talk – it was like they confused the screen with a mirror and they’d study their profiles and poke their chorbs and try out different things with their hair.
But ever since the world went to hell, video calls are a lifeline to the outside world. Adapt or die all alone in your house. Suck it up or get shut out by colleagues and abandoned by friends. So I have. Here are some of the do’s and don’ts I learnt in the eleventy-thousand weeks of lockdown.
& Do think of video chats as the new house visit. Remember how, back in the old days when you actually went to people’s homes, you checked out the books in their shelves and try to figure out whether the plant in the corner was fake or real? Now you get to do it over a screen.
& Do always presume someone will be nosier than you. Your background is very important, especially when it comes to work calls. Don’t think ag, no one will notice if there’s a full laundry basket behind you or you haven’t cleaned the fireplace. Someone will. And next thing you’ll be the office grub.
& Don’t try to talk when in social multi-video calls – for someone’s birthday, say. It’s impossible. Just wave and smile and let everyone else stop-start all over each other.
& Do read those articles that tell you how to position your screen. No one wants to look at the top of your head (especially in these dire salon-less times) or up your nostrils.
& Don’t feel resentful when a colleague’s partner pops up on the screen to put a steaming cup of tea next to him/her. They’re just showing off. Pretend not to notice.
& Don’t wear the same cardi every single day, no matter how comforting it may be. People will gossip about you. This only applies if you care, though. If you don’t, wear away.
& And finally, Don’t fall prey to Zomo – the new fear of missing out, which involves going on social media and seeing posts of your friends all hanging out on a Zoom party you weren’t invited to. Do then put a little drop of something fortifying in your coffee and keep your chin up.
- Nicola Whitfield is YOU’s deputy editor