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Why Minnesotans rank No. 1 in Zoom fatigue

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Published in Science & Technology News

MINNEAPOLIS – Minnesotans can add another No. 1 ranking to the trophy case: our dislike of virtual meetings.

By tracking 170,000 geotagged tweets, researchers at someka.net found the North Star State led the nation in phrases such as "I hate virtual meetings" and "I hate zoom meetings."

Perhaps our aversion to video conferencing relates to our large population of residents with Scandinavian ancestry (another No. 1), with a reputation for shy reserve.

Psychology professor Shevaun Stocker, of the University of Wisconsin Superior, said that video conferences can be more fatiguing than in-person for several reasons — making them especially challenging for introverts.

First, there's an expectation of more eye contact with virtual meetings than in-person. So our brains spend more cognitive energy reading others' facial expressions.

 

Second, in virtual meetings, unlike in-person ones, we're watching ourselves, too — which can be both cognitively tiring and anxiety provoking.

And finally, Stocker said, the time lag and dampened nonverbal cues can lead to awkward pauses and over-talking, which are more difficult to negotiate online.

Stocker suggested that Minnesotans' cultural norms about politeness and not being too aggressive, favor an indirect communication style that simply doesn't work as well in a virtual world.

An earlier someka.net study found Minnesota also ranked No. 1 in comments about missing the office. Social discomfort could be the reason. Or maybe all the bars their colleagues used to bring.

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