June 12, 2020

Zooman Beings

The end is in sight for Zooman Beings.

I can almost see the smile on your 3D face.

Almost. My eyes are too strained by virtue of  the several hundred Zoom calls I’ve been on in recent months, that even with my glasses I might struggle to see your face.

But being a Zooman Being has definitely affected my mood.  Even as someone who loves their own company, and as someone who writes a lot of material online.

Zoom is, as the former Prime Minister Paul Keating said he would do to his political opponent, “doing me slowly”. It’s ground me down. I’ve become a Zoomlander, with apologies to Ben Stiller. But my facial expressions on Zoom are beginning to match his.

That’s if I let you see my face on Zoom the whole time in the meeting. I’ve switched off the camera multiple times to make tea, dive in to the toilet for a pee, to throw things in the bin, or to quietly do something else and pretend I’m listening.

That’s a joy I don’t take for granted.  After all, when the lockdown finishes and everyone is able to meet face to face, I’m hardly going to say to someone, “Could you just look away for about twenty seconds while I pick my nose?”

Oh the freedoms we will lose!

Zooman Beings are getting edgy and uptight. I know I am.  And that’s even as an introvert who is still struggling to go into shops.  I have a little bit of PTSD, and constantly see every person as a virus-laden cruise ship ready to dock in Circular Quay and unload vast quantities of lethalness in my direction.

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And there’s no way I listen as much on Zoom, or take as much in.  My brother heads up the Hearing Hub of Australia at Macquarie University.  Cochlear – the implant company – now sits alongside the hub, having moved from Melbourne to do so, while a number of other hearing agencies and charities are also in that cluster.

As my brother points out, the move to form a cluster in which people can do face to face communication shows you that just being able to hear, or even see, a person online, is not enough.  Australia’s hearing centre believed that fact deeply enough to gather people together so that they could do face to face communication.

Communication is about the whole body experience of the other person.  That’s why the more intimate we are with a person the more the whole body becomes involved. That’s why we can communicate the most wonder – and the most awful – things to people face to face.  That’s why when face to face with someone we have been chippy with on social media, we pull our heads in (see how even that metaphor implies the need for an incarnational experience?).

Some things will continue to be done by Zoom. Including some things that were not done by Zoom before.  Some meetings will become more efficient and more frequent, and certainly include more people.  We’re thinking of more “town square” meetings for church folk on Zoom.  Sure, after church meetings to discuss things are great, but when one parent has to look after children, or someone has to be somewhere else, the chance of hearing all voices is diminished.

So I am looking forward to church as a hearing, speaking seeing, touching, and yes, smelling, event some time soon.

The end of Zooman Beings is in sight.  And I for one cannot wait.

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There is no guarantee that Jesus will return in our desired timeframe. Yet we have no reason to be anxious, because even if the timeframe is not guaranteed, the outcome is! We don’t have to waste energy being anxious; we can put it to better use.

Stephen McAlpine – futureproof

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