The phenomenon has been known as zoom fatigue, and Doodley, who is an associate clinical professor and director of applied behavioral analysis programs, has experienced it himself. At one point I was using five different video platforms to keep up with work, classes, and family and friends – my head was spinning.
Doodley says that even if you are using only one platform, losing non-incredible symbols can impose a tax on our brains. Dr. Penn explained that while it sounds trivial, it makes the process of communicating with others significantly more watery than face-to-face conversations. Conversations are based on back and forth conversations between two or more people, and for its flow, we rely on the people in the chat to choose the cues for the conversation so that we can’t all talk at once. This kind of fine, non-verbal communication is much harder when chatting online because the sources of the conversation become distorted and the people involved in the chat become more and more difficult.
Sorting out these non-verbal indicators then becomes more complicated and tedious when you drop technical errors into the mix, for example, if your microphone or connection is running. Making a few flat jokes is embarrassing enough to IRL but if no one responds to you due to faulty equipment it can quickly provoke feelings of irritation and isolation. Above all, the increased effort required to monitor and contribute to online-based video-based chats takes more effort and causes more frustration than it does in the real world, so there are greater fatigue and less enjoyment associated with its use, Penn explained.
He suggested that cognitive impairments could make the building worse, a theory outlined in the 1950s that outlined how we feel when we are not in harmony with our opinions and beliefs. We reduce this pressure by changing our perspective or denying that any inconsistency existed before it began. Penn posted that it was related to the lockdown that we became accustomed to watching video calls as a voluntary option for face-to-face communication, but the lockdown forced us to change the way they viewed.
Although Penn says he doesn’t believe in any evidence-based intervention to prevent zoom fatigue, he suggests that shutting down unnecessary video calls can bring some relief. Back-to-back video calls can be watertight, so skipping video for a phone call may make you feel a little under the zoom thumb. For informal video calls, structuring your chats with a game or quiz can avoid some tedious nuances of missed conversation signals by structuring them into activities. Plus, you’ll be getting rid of clutter you don’t need. Save some nights of the week to keep your laptop away from the screen – even if you don’t stay in front of the TV.