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Image / Editorial

Thought your Zoom fatigue was bad? Stylist Cathy O Connor fears she’s becoming a ‘Zoombie’


By IMAGE
12th Jun 2020
Thought your Zoom fatigue was bad? Stylist Cathy O Connor fears she’s becoming a ‘Zoombie’

Cathy O Connor’s Zoom fatigue has taken a turn for the worse.


“Zoom, zoom!” the child cried with a squeal of delight. Her foot on the accelerator, her tiny hands clasping the steering wheel and looking ahead with a fixed stare. A stare of determination, of focus, but with a slight edge of mania.

How could I have possibly known that many, many years later I would be crying “Zoom, zoom!” once again? Only this time, it is not with a squeal of delight but more with a murmur  of quiet desperation.

“Zoom, zoom”, I cry, “not another blooming Zoom meeting!”

However, one aspect remains the same. I still have that slight edge of mania as I fear I’m becoming a ‘Zoombie’.

Three months ago I had never even heard of Zoom; had never known of its brilliant technology that would bring us all together and had never known of the type of fatigue that comes with it.

Initially, I was so delighted to see the faces of my cherished tribe and so grateful to see them animated in all their glory. It was a huge step towards meaningful connection.

Who needs real life when you have Zoom? Yet within no time at all that enthusiasm waned to be replaced with dread —  the dread of another Zoom call.

As Zoom immediately became the communication of choice for my business world, my never-before-seen home world was now on show. I’ve had to impress on so many levels before and just at a time when I had run out of gusto, my home interior now had to impress too.

Where was the best location for light? What was visible in the background? Where had I discarded my unopened copy of Ulysses? Why hadn’t I looked after my neglected orchid now that I needed a showpiece? Why hadn’t I bought that Alessi trinket?

The background now became another layer of self-expression. I ran around my house, laptop in hand, seeking out the best place for lighting. Even though I was feeling blah, I couldn’t let myself down by having a less than sparkling interior.

Eventually, the location was sourced. Awkward for me to sit there but at least the lighting was reasonable and I welcomed the damage limitation when it came to hiding the chaotic nature of  my home.

At a time when I consistently looked at my worst, there I was, endlessly on screen, looking back at myself

But the effort didn’t stop there. I was merely at the first step of this endless performance. I also had to present myself. While it felt like my world was collapsing round me, no signs of that strain could be visible on Zoom.

I painted my tired face but there was no amount of concealer that perked me up. At a time when I consistently looked at my worst, there I was, endlessly on screen, looking back at myself.

Try as I might to focus on anyone else, my attention returned to my own reflection, starting an internal dialogue that all too often drowned out the voice of the meeting. There was nowhere to hide, literally. I was all boxed in, in every sense of the word.

There seemed to be an intensity about these calls; staring at a screen, afraid to move or scratch my nose, irritated by those who hadn’t yet discovered the mute button and so every sound of their domestic life interrupted the flow. No reprieve. Switched on all the time.

And that sense of being ‘switched on’ too much has reintroduced me to the value of switching off. My time off-screen has become more precious.

Zoom has been the tipping point and so, I’ve taken a step back. I’m now happy not to check my phone like a teenager. I am relishing staring into space. No edge of mania in my eyes but more of the delicious, easy pleasure of stillness.

Read more: Are you fed up of looking fed up? Stylist Cathy O’Connor has had enough

Read more: Eoin Higgins asks ‘Am I the only one finding video calls mortifying?’

Read more: Hide the mess with Zoom background images from Image Interiors & Living