Travel Editor Catrin Jackson explores what the Zoom craze suggests about human social behaviour
The majority of the student population have faced a major transition through lockdown; from daily social interaction with friends to a significantly isolated home life completely void of genuine interaction with fellow students and peers. This change has seen a reliance on technology like never before, with thousands becoming dependent on various social outlets such as Zoom in order to fulfil the virtual face-to-face interactions they have been craving. This desire has been labelled as the ‘Zoom boom’, where from March, the application has reported 200 million people using its services each day both to work and to socialise. This statistic only informs how vital human interaction is for everyday life.
Like most, I have transitioned from having never heard about Zoom to becoming entirely dependent on its usage for social interaction with friends. As a student, I have been attempting to revive partial aspects of university life through various quiz nights and themed evenings with my friends, desperately clutching at straws to make the inevitable mundanity of home life more entertaining. Adapting to these changes is crucial in informing our long-standing need for human interaction.
Whilst technology is almost second-nature to students, this change has forced older generations not as familiar with such technology to learn and adapt if they are to interact with beloved friends and family members from home. Psychologist Dr Doreen Dodgen-Magee reinforces this need for interaction for all ages. She claims how ‘as social animals, we fail to thrive when we can’t have meaningful connections with others, so video-calling is really important at the moment for helping us feel part of a community.’ Likewise, this desire for socialisation is recognised through the frustrations felt by those living in rural areas with poor signal. Instead of virtual interaction, they are faced instead with blank screens and buffering faces.
As time slowly trails on for many as lockdown continues, the hype of virtual interaction seems to have worn off. This has left many yearning for face-to-face encounters with friends from around the globe. Of course, virtual interaction has its flaws, but what other ways can we satisfy our natural instinct for social interaction? Poised in front of my laptop, I am consciously aware of the more restricted speaking time that accommodates a virtual zoom chat, whether that be curfews or conflicting schedules. Moreover, I often find myself pulling up the camera app to check my appearance before the call commences; something I wouldn’t consider in a face-to-face conversation. But what else can I do?
The ‘Zoom boom’ era has foregrounded the vital role human interaction plays within our lives, and the way we are willing to adapt to accommodate this need. Though virtual interaction is certainly better than no interaction at all, I look forward to the day that I can socialise face-to-face with my friends, without having to worry about what I look like through the camera app on my laptop first, or even through my laptop.
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