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An Essential Survival Guide For ‘Zoom’-ing Through The New Normal With Its 8 Types Of Inhabitants

Posted: August 4, 2020

Zoom. A word I would have associated only with the phenomenon of speed in a pre-covid world, is now the currency of civilisation.

Just the other day, I completed hosting an entire webinar and book reading session, while my daughter tickled me from under the table. She would intermittently demand a snack or hand out various artwork from her new cozy under-table home, considering the amount of time my husband and I spend online these days.

Our new normal, isn’t this? A world full of masks, sanitisers, fear and foreboding, where in a moment of insanity, it appears that spending more time online and away from everything that threatens to infect us offline, seems like an inherently saner proposition.

Enter Zoom. A word I would have only associated with the phenomenon of speed in a pre-covid world, now makes my left cheek twitch by its mere mention. Why? Don’t we all know?

From birthday parties to baby naming parties, to homework parties (no, I haven’t made this up) to society grumbling forum parties to office bitching parties, to cribbing parties to I- have- no- particular- reason -lets- zoom parties. The great enabler of human contact that has also become the noose that tightens, but never really leaves you and lets you cross over in peace.

Having spent so much time in these sessions with a smile plastered on my face, I have analysed and clustered the usual suspects in this strange land to help you navigate it better! Let’s meet them.

The Dolphin

This rare kind of enthusiasm would have embarrassed Dolphins running for cheerleader training. Giddily joyous, sometimes clapping like a happy sea lion, this creature will infect you with enthusiasm and is usually the kind who will prevent the call from ending. Mute them as often as you can.

The Multiplier

This creature is a shape shifter and matures on a slow boil. But once the bug has bitten them, once they’ve tasted blood, they will look for any opportunity to send zoom invites to every third, fourth or fifth cousin in your family tree. They are statistically driven and will not stop till the entire world has been tapped through zoom outreach.

The Ostrich

This is the sulker. (I have a sneaky suspicion that a lot of us are gravitating towards this behaviour) They are usually found with a glazed, uninterested look on their faces. Not keen on participation and will not volunteer much speech beyond occasional grunts. Spotting them is hard because their videos are usually turned off. If you spot them, quickly get a word in before they pull another Houdini.

The Nurse

Can’t hear someone? Got a technical glitch? Someone is misbehaving or saying inappropriate things? Want someone to send another invite? The Nurse is your best pick. This ones an innate healer and fixer. Happy to be recipients or dumpees of the work that no one else want to do, they derive their happiness from being problem solvers. Always have one of them on quick dial.

The Joker

This creature believes that the quality and success of every call rests on their delicate shoulders. All kinds of entertainment, in-appropriate jokes, light hearted banter, constant ribbing, you name it, its available in their satchel. The issue is the pause or end button. They don’t know when and where to stop. You can help in this regard but then you have to take being labelled ‘antisocial’ or party pooper in your stride.

The Panda

This one will stick to the call as passionately as a Panda would a tree. They are oblivious to hints, direct pleas, begging, subtlety, all manner of human persuasion. They will try everything in their ammunition of saam daam dand bhed in their endeavour to stay on the call and keep others on it. Beware.

The Penny

This creature is destined to suffer the wrath of the internet gods. It remains to be determined whether intentionally or otherwise. They are the ones who usually drop from the call as easily as loose change from pockets, especially when asked to respond to a tough question or put under the spotlight. They rejoin with profuse apologies. This joy is short-lived so don’t rejoice yet. They will slowly but surely drop out again.

The Ghost

This is a confused lot. It’s beneath their dignity and not worth their while to be present during the call but they don’t want to miss out on the fun either. Hence, they will be found lurking around in the background, pretending to be extremely busy. A motion blur, a mysterious shawl darting across the screen, curious eyes from behind a moving curtain? Yup. That’s them, floating around like Casper or Vetaal. You want to make them stop? Turn around and stare at them.

Now that I have provided such cutting-edge insights into the matter and rendered an important service to my kind, glancing through these tips and tricks is a gentle nudge for me to possibly get a life, and stay off zoom calls for some time!

Image source: Edward Jenner on Pexels

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After chasing criminals as a journalist and spending over a decade in advertising, Richa penned

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