Quarantine Contemplation: Zoom burnout is a thing.

If you haven’t heard of the Marketoonist…Well, I dropped the link here for ya.

Disclaimer: This is lowkey, a venting-out post, and I’m a total hypocrite, and I really need to take my own advice, but hear me out.

Zoom burnout is a thing.

I repeat: teachers, parents, students—ZOOM BURNOUT IS REAL.

Call me old-fashioned, but I’ve always had a preference for brainstorming, taking notes, writing essays, and putting any and all of my thoughts down to paper (there’s nothing like the feeling of a writing utensil callusing your finger joints with little nubs).

It really wasn’t until I graduated high school that I started using screens as much as I do now. In fact, when I first entered university, I was shocked; no, gob-smacked (cool word) at the number of other students who used their laptops to take notes. Since then, I’ve replaced the sensory satisfaction of a pen and paper with the sweet clack of a keyboard. And now, I feel an “unproductiveness” and a sort of emptiness without my technology.

As a college student, I spent a good chunk of my time hunkered down scouring the internet for information, typing away my papers, and lounging in bed while blankly gazing into the glare of blue light of Hulu when I probably should have been either studying or sleeping (speaking of which, guys, you gotta sleep). But the amount I spent scowling at black docs and scrolling through streaming services is overshadowed eclipsed DECIMATED by the time I spend in front of screens ever since the pandemic started.

I like to consider myself an adaptive person. At least, I try to be as flexible as possible (though I was a lot more fit before the pandemic). Still, this whole “everything-online” and “virtual living” thing has me worn out, and I know I’m not alone in this sentiment.

I’ve spoken to friends, classmates, coworkers, professors, and other professionals, and while I—or we—can’t speak for everyone, to my knowledge, the general consensus is that people are getting really tired of hopping on a Zoom call X many times a day.

School, work, socialization—everything is online. And while it’s important to acknowledge what a privilege is to even have access to these resources that allow us to engage in spaces, realize opportunities, and connect with others around the world in real time, it’s also important to recognize the not-so-positive impacts that technology has had on people during this time. Zoom burnout (and really, just burnout in general) is a real thing and can not only affect performance but also our overall well-being.

Shoutout to @kuya__steven reinterpreting (and Thyswyl Delyfe for promoting) a classic meme.

None of us could have anticipated the start of a pandemic at the dawn of a new decade (well, that is, apart from…). But now that we’re over a year into this global quagmire, it’s important to do what we can to ameliorate the situation, not simply with tech-driven solutions, but also understanding others as well as the self.

Teachers: I get the whole “keep your cameras on during class” thing—trust me, I understand what it’s like to be on the other side of the camera, hosting a meeting or class and seeing grey boxes with names floating in limbo in place of faces. It can feel isolating, awkward, and, quite frankly, annoying when it seems like nobody wants to be there and chances are they don’t. Now, it’s not that they don’t want to be in class necessarily, but most people don’t find it particularly pleasant to have the morning/midday/midnight face and bedroom/kitchen/living room (/bathroom?) out on display for everyone to see. Many people would rather be in class in person. 

Parents: I can understand why you might get frustrated with your kids once in a while when/if they seem like they’re not putting effort into their classes, chores, or other goings-on. My mom gets pretty ticked with me too when I “forget” to do the laundry on Fridays, and I get it. I mean, c’mon, you go to work how many times a week, work how many hours, and juggle how many other responsibilities that come with being a parent? I truly do understand, and I’m sorry that your kids seem to have seriously regressed into actual kids, but—and this is not an excuse but a plea from one of these aforementioned kiddos—there is a lot going on. And yes, you’re right, right now, most of us don’t get up every morning to commute, or go to work (in person), or pay the bills, but have you ever tried your hand at feigning a smile (and/or attention) while on camera (which, by the way, is probably recording your every move and every word) multiple times a day on multiple days in a week? Dude, it’s tough.

And students: I only have two words for you—CHILL. OUT. It is a rough time for a lot of us right now, and just because this is a global pandemic with people around the world pushing through it and many individuals making do, doesn’t mean that your experience is not valid. I can promise you that no one is having an especially easy time right now (well, I mean, unless you have some green and the nerve to fly over to some island resort during this truly tragic period, no shade intended…okay, yes, shade intended).

All of that said, I have four more words for everyone, from teachers to parents to students to whoever else—give yourself a break.

Actually, I have two more words for you all (welp, I guess I’m a hypocrite and a liar)—be gentle. Be gentle with yourself. Be gentle with others.

If you take nothing from this read (except for my shade and HILARIOUS sarcasm), or in case you’re in dire need of a TDLR, here are four key takeaways:

  • Zoom burnout—and burnout in general—is real.
  • We’re in the middle of a global pandemic.
  • Stay home and stay safe.
  • Give yourself a break.
  • Be gentle with yourself, and be gentle with others.

You can’t look at this and not be tempted. Oh, you’re not? Well, then you’re not human. But for those of us who are and need a little break: treat yo’self with some scrumptious Crumb cookies.

by Christianne Evasco

Christianne is a senior at New York Univerity, majoring in Psychology and minoring in Child and Adolescent Mental Health Studies (CAMS) and Creative Writing. Christianne’s endeavors are fueled by her passion to use her voice to help others harness the power of their own voices through therapeutically-creative means and to connect people through language and cultural exchange. In her free time, you can find her catnapping with her cats.

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