While reading up on Zoom fatigue for last week’s article, I came across a number of articles that provided tips on how to extract oneself from a video call that has gone on longer than you’d like.
Some were more funny than practical – like the “Passive Aggressive” and “Irish Goodbye” in 8 non-awkward ways to leave a Zoom hangout. And likewise, the Zoom Escaper webapp which helps you fake a bad connection, or a baby crying, dog barking, etc. as an excuse to leave Zoom calls.
But the implication was that we are often trapped in conversations, and unsure how to exit them gracefully.
Indeed, whether it’s a stranger next to you on an airplane, an acquaintance at a social gathering, or a friend who appears to be on a practice break, how do you know when is the right time to end the conversation?
Like, does this person actually want to stop talking to me, but is hanging in there to be polite, so I’m being kind of insensitive by keeping them hostage?
Or are they genuinely engaged in the conversation, and by cutting things off rather abruptly I’m inadvertently pushing them away, when I’m really just trying to be respectful of their time?
You’d think we’d be able to tell which way our conversational partner is leaning. But can we really?
When schools, classes, private lessons, and meetings for work all went online just about a year ago, whether it was Zoom, Skype, FaceTime, or some other platform, I think anxiety was probably the first thing that we experienced.
Whether it was laggy connections, simply getting our camera and audio to work, or trying to figure out how to use a second camera for lessons, or fiddling around with advanced settings to make music sound a little better, figuring out how to teach and learn and engage with others through videoconferencing made for a pretty stressful time.
At some point though, I think we began to adjust and get more comfortable…but then the term “Zoom fatigue” began to pop up. Which doesn’t have a diagnostic criteria or anything formal like that, but refers to the tiredness, exhaustion, or feelings of burnout you might experience after video calls.
So…is this really a thing? And if so, what is it about sitting in a chair, staring at a screen of faces in tiny rectangles that causes us to be so fatigued? And is there anything we can do to make this less exhausting?
Researchers are only just beginning to look at this phenomenon, so there isn’t a ton of data yet – but a theoretical paper did come out recently which not only proposed four reasons for why “Zoom fatigue” happens, but offers a couple suggestions on how to make a long day of video chatting a little less draining.
There are lots and lots of stories on the internet (and in books too, of course) about athletes’ use of visualization when preparing for competition. Where they imagine every detail of an upcoming race, or see themselves scoring goals, or overcoming adversity to win a gold medal.
Typically, this visualization is all future-focused. Where they imagine performing well in upcoming events that haven’t yet happened.
But I’ve also heard stories of athletes who spend time visualizing the past. Imagining and virtually re-experiencing previous competition successes in their mind to get into a better headspace and boost their confidence at key moments before (or even during) competition.
This seems like a sensible strategy, and anecdotally, this seems to have a positive effect. But is this type of retrospective imagery worth making time for? Like, is there any research suggesting that this does indeed have a measurable effect on performance?
Well, as I began looking, I stumbled across a related study that caught my interest. It didn’t look at visualizing past successes per se, but past experiences when we had some degree of power, and how this might affect how we come across in evaluative situations like job interviews.
Err…power? What does that mean exactly?
Let’s take a look…
A couple months ago, I was asked to do a class for a group of conservatory students. And so the faculty organizers and I thought it might be interesting to do a quick survey in advance to see what questions the students might want to explore.
And the number one question that got the most votes was “What are some ways I can keep myself motivated to practice and improve in the current climate?”
I thought about this a bit, but didn’t feel like I had an especially good answer to this question.
So it made me wonder how other folks might respond to this question. In particular, musicians who had been active both as performers and teachers – before 2020 happened, and the normal routines and rituals of our lives were disrupted in so many ways.
This seemed like a perfect opportunity to reach out to someone I’ve been wanting to talk to for some time. A musician who has always struck me as being very thoughtful – not just about music, but of the mental aspect of a musician’s life in the practice room, in performance, and off-stage, as well.