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Emotional Compression

Over the last 6+ months, we have all been learning and adjusting to a new way of interacting with our day-to-day lives. It seems that a default has emerged throughout all this and that default is doing everything over Zoom. It wasn't because of superior software, better features, or perfect fidelity, it was a tool that fits a need at a specific time when this kind of tool suddenly became crucial for every person at the same time. Many of us have used Zoom or similar video conferencing type apps in past generally for work-based reasons. This last year has changed what it means to be on a video conference call, however; with every interaction, we have been within the same viewport, and we start to lose context. {{more}} This year I have been on Zoom calls for various reasons, including, client meetings for work, having a beer and hang out with friends, as well as attending a funeral. Before this year all of those events would have been very distinct and different, but not this year. Each event has me in a little rectangle in a sea of other rectangles.

Previously, the emotional range of these events was:

Image of Emotional Range Prior to Now

This means of social participation has had an effect of Emotional Compression where all emotions are squeezed from the outer extremes down to the middle, which has given the perception of recalibrating what emotions are being felt during any given event. A 90-minute quarterly all-hands event at work and a funeral eulogy are viewed from the same window and it can be difficult to remember where you are physically, virtually, and mentally.

Image of Emotional Range Today

It wouldn't be wrong to imagine this only affects very social and outgoing people, but I'm here to tell you that I am introverted AF and today I realized physical interaction is still important when it comes to this compression of emotion. Things are tough, and they will likely continue to be tough for some time to come. I have decided it's a worthwhile endeavor to change up how these virtual meetings go. You cannot change the medium, but you can change the physical location/equipment used to participate. Try a different device for friend hangouts vs. work meetings. Change up the background or dress differently. A few little changes can go a long way!

Stay Strong.
Wear a Mask.

Do all of the things that are right when much of the world is making you not want to and is pushing you toward wrong.