The Attack of the Killer Zoombies

Bob Goldman on

Oh, how fun it was.

Locked down and locked in, we suddenly had an easy, breezy way to communicate. It was called Zoom, and it meant that, like our Neanderthal ancestors, gathered around the fire, we could sit around a high-tech campfire and share stories without ever leaving our caves.

Too bad the fire went out.

"Video-call-induced exhaustion" is the scientific name for what ails us. The scientist who named the condition is Jeremy Bailenson of Stanford University's Virtual Human Interaction Lab. (And don't you wish you could interact with virtual humans? These real humans are making us coocoo!)

According to a recent article in The Washington Post, Bailenson sees four reasons behind the Attack of the Zoombies.

The number one cause is "an excessive amount of direct eye gaze."


"During a video call, everyone is often staring at the speaker and the listeners, whereas in-person, some people may glance at their notes or lean over to a colleague for a side conversation," says the Post article.

This is true. It is also true that some people may fall asleep, slip off their chairs, slide under the conference table and not be discovered for days. (These people are called executive vice presidents, but that's another story.)

"There's also the constant self-evaluation," the Post says. "Seeing our own faces and gestures several hours a day on video is stressful and taxing." This is especially true for someone like you, so good-looking you can't help but compare yourself to the other Zoomers, triggering feelings of pity for everyone who doesn't look as good.

(Note: you can click or unclick something or other to activate Zoom's "Hide Myself" feature. This option means that everyone else can see your face, but you can't. Seems like a great loss to me.)


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