We’re all more connected during this time of social distancing because of technology but that doesn’t mean it’s not taking a toll on us. While we might enjoy being able to video chat with our friends and family, if it’s leaving you drained then you’re not alone.
I recently came across an article by Doreen Dodgen-Magee who happens to be a psychologist in Psychology Today that touched on video chatting and how it’s wearing us out and well, I relate. In her article, she goes over how these virtual encounters seem to leave us more drained than actual ‘face-to-face encounters.’ She also noted that many people are left feeling lonely after talking with the people they care the most for through these means, that being something that I am going through myself.
While I haven’t taken a lot of time to think about this until recently it makes a lot of sense. We as human beings crave physical touch, and we want to do more than just hear and see someone. We want to be able to smell them and engage with them properly. Sure, video chatting is a great alternative during these times, but we should work to better understand how it is affecting us and why we are feeling the ways that we are.
Dodgen-Magee also touched on something most people overlook which goes as follows:
Another dynamic that plagues video-based connection is the constant presence of one’s own image as they interact with others. Spontaneous and authentic communication is benefitted by the ability to be fully in the moment without the kind of acute self-awareness that comes with watching oneself during a conversation. For anyone with even a mild version of an inner critic, this can have a massive impact on how one is, or is not, in the present moment of a conversation in an authentic and available way. There’s a certain kind of cognitive dissonance here. We are on the call to connect with another but our ambient awareness of ourself redirects our attention.
Finally, the odd new way in which time moves is likely a contributor to our feelings of exhaustion and overwhelm in regards to interpersonal interaction. When we were moving about in the world, every request for a get together was made with an awareness that peoples’ calendars were full. Very likely we felt as though we had greater agency and options in responding to peoples’ requests of us.
Now that all of our connections are done from home, I find people responding in primarily one of two ways to interpersonal offerings. One response is fear, guilt, exhaustion, or resentment which comes from feeling as though there is no “excuse” for saying no to a gathering or event since everyone knows we’re all home and “available.” The second is an automatic “yes” to as many offerings as possible to distract from the realities of our present situation.
The truth is video calls will never be able to replace seeing people in person, especially people who are not far away. The screen may freeze up, you may have audio issues, and overall things just won’t be as proper as you would hope for them to be. This whole thing by many people is being referred to as video call fatigue and it is quite real.
Honestly, our virtual social lives may be more exhausting than our actual social lives. Don’t forget to recharge and give yourself some transition time when it comes to things like this. Right now we should be working to spend a little less time on our phones and a little more time caring for our own well-being.
While it might not be something everyone is facing it is something a lot of people are facing. While this pandemic will be over eventually right now we are forced to interact in this manner and that we must adapt to. This will pass but we must be patient.