As we often say, the virus has brought us many gifts. One of the most surprising is the spike in digital communications. Everything is online which is a very mixed blessing. It’s nice to connect with doctors without spending hours in their waiting room surrounded by people who are coughing, sneezing, or groaning. On the other hand, many of us have complaints about technological glitches that force us to recover passwords or security codes or fix our computers without any access to actual human beings.
At the top of the list of new challenges is ZOOM. Who ever heard of it before March? Who had the foresight to invest in it? Now many of us are zooming every day, either rejoicing in or rebelling against its enforced presence in our Covid world. Some people are happy with the ease and comfort of working from home; others miss the socializing that workplaces provided. Grandparents living a distance away from their families are now becoming familiar with Zoom, and they love the opportunity to see and interact with grandchildren.
Some of us love Zoom, some of us hate it, some both love and hate it. Some have written about the love/hate relationship they have with Zoom, about how it can create moments of intimacy and also of resentment:
Recently, I’ve been thinking of Zoom as something like Heaven, although I know that a great many teachers and professors and their students feel differently and, understandably, may find it to be Hellish. Like Heaven, it’s hard to get into.
I’m old enough to be captivated by it and to find it remarkable. What would my grandparents think of Zoom? It would surely appear miraculous, inconceivable. I remember my grandmother telling me about the magic of hearing a human voice by means of a crystal set. Though she was familiar with telegrams, it was not until she was middle-aged that she had a telephone and much later before she had a black-and wife TV set. My parents had a hi-fi set and coloured TV, but they never had a computer, nor a cell phone.
They would have marvelled at all the wireless capacity we have. How could it be possible to do so many things from a distance: open doors, turn on stoves and computers, dictate and print out documents while driving our cars? All without any wires or cables? Incredible!
There’s a famous poem by Henry Scott-Holland that says, “Death is nothing at all … I have only slipped away into the next room”:
Zoom feels a bit like that. Though people are very far away, on Zoom it’s as though they are just in the next room.
As I try to imagine the multiple universes within which our earth is a mere dot, I wonder if somewhere in a distant galaxy there could not be some interstellar server which picks up all the details in our lives and those of our loved ones. Perhaps it could gather them together for us when we leave this mortal coil. After all, doesn’t the very name, Zoom, conjure up the world of Marvel comics and superheroic feats?
For some of us, one of the gifts from the coronavirus is time to imagine. To conjure up fantasies about all things great and small, visible and invisible.
Tomorrow I may be complaining about the various diabolical aspects of Zoom communications, but for tonight I’m happily visualizing the possibilities of Zoom Heaven.