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Thinker's Notebook

Who’s Zooming Who?

This was my work day today. I had a 9am Zoom conference with the NAACP. I had an 11am Zoom interview with an awesome Creative, and I had a Webinar at 12:30pm. After work, I did a Zoom Happy Hour with my friends.

Sound familiar?

For those of us working from home, Zoom has become our go-to app for all video conferencing. Prior to being quarantined, I remember using Zoom maybe a couple other times. These days, I’m on Zoom for two-four hours a day easily. It’s sudden mass appeal lies in its simplicity. To join a meeting, you only need to click the invite link that the meeting host sends out. If you’re on your laptop, you don’t even need to download any app. But even from your phone, installing the app is as simple as installing Words With Friends or Whatsapp. You don’t even need to create a username and password. You can log in using your Google account. Another big plus is that it’s free to use. You can host a 100 person conference for 40 minutes for free. You can basically access Zoom anywhere, from any mode of communication, and that has really made it the site to use for video conferencing.
Our way to communicate, and in a bigger sense to co-exist with one another, has been adjusted as a result of COVID-19. Eight weeks ago, restaurants, taverns and bars were teeming with socialization. Movie theaters were full. We had options and venues in which to interface with one another. You could go to dinner with your spouse. You could go to church with your mother. You could go to brunch with your girls. COVID-19 halted all of it, almost all of it. What it didn’t stop is our desire to interact with one another, our need to be together. Zoom has stepped up as the most seamless way to do this.

I have done family zooms that have bought together an entire family of folk quarantined in different communities. I have done brunch zooms where all of the callers were in their homes making and eating brunch. My friends and I have even done an open mic zoom where people who wanted to perform poetry did so while the rest of us watched. As more and more people flock to Zoom for their social interaction needs, the site has held up pretty well. The sudden surge in usage has pushed the market cap of Zoom to $45.5 Billion dollars, an increase of $26.7 Billion dollars when compared to their market cap in 2019. Reports are that Zoom is currently valued higher than all of the airlines, combined.

So, is this the new normal? Depending on who you speak to, working from home is either not bad at all, or the worst thing a person has ever tried to commit to. My experience has been kinda middle of the road. While being home all day is certainly more comfortable than waking up at 7 to be at work by 8, the discipline of managing work flow and house business takes time to get right. When are clothes required? I’d be lying if I said I always put clothes on for Zoom conferences. Early on, I was comfortable doing Zoom conferences in my hooded robe. Others though, were probably not as comfortable with this. Zoom etiquette is fluid and still developing, especially for work-from-home parents trying to homeschool their children. All of it requires patience, as we continue to adapt to this. Some companies are actually satisfied with the paradigm shift. My sister’s company, for example, is considering selling the lease on their brick and mortar and going full-on tele-commuting. With encrypted networks and proprietary software, companies are becoming more and more confident having workers work from home.

And while we learn how to work from home, we also are learning how to socialize from home. Social media has become the club, with DJs going live all day and night for fans to enjoy. Facebook posts, Twitter posts and Instagram posts have all increased compared to this time last year. People are relying on the Internet to connect with one another, and Zoom is poised to be a mainstay of connectivity. With no end in sight, the day-to-day work of millions of Americans will continue to be conducted through the Internet, and through sites like Zoom.

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