Zoom Farewell

October 13, 2020
hands waving on top of orange squares with a purple background
Art by Kim Salac

I was in my bed, on the phone with him, and after roughly 15 seconds of silence he said to me: “Wanna know what I can’t stop thinking about?” 

And I said,

“Yes,” 

Because I always wanna know what he’s thinking about. 

And he said, 

“That moment at the end of a Zoom call, where everyone’s about to leave and we all wave to each other.” 

 

Occasionally some people will turn their microphone on and give a little, “Thank you!! Bye!!” That is nice. I am often not that person. 

 

So now I can’t stop thinking about it. 

Sometimes everyone is still muted; occasionally some people will turn their microphone on and give a little, “Thank you!! Bye!!” 

That is nice. I am often not that person. 

I am instead one of the many people giving semi-enthusiastic smiles to no one in particular, or maybe someone very deliberate, depending on if anyone happens to look at my 920px by 1080px box, wherever it might be located in their gallery view. Zoom is very egocentric in that way. Everyone’s location on the screen depends on your own, but you have no idea where you exist from maybe 30 other perspectives. 

I asked him about it again later, and he was like, “Oh, I said that?”

I thought he couldn’t stop thinking about it? I’m still thinking about it. Thinking about how it’s weird after everyone disappears. I am granted a teeny tiny glimpse into another person’s world. I have grown accustomed to the bookshelf behind a person I’ve never met, and yet I feel inclined to give a sincere (?) sendoff as they retreat to their own dimension. They’re suddenly gone, and it’s like, in his wise words, “Did that even just happen?” 

 

I want to say that waving is an attempt to sort of make things feel more normal and grounded, but I’m not sure if that works. I never left a class by vigorously waving at all my peers simultaneously and then, like, spontaneously combusting.

 

That’s part of the problem with Zoom, maybe. It doesn’t feel concrete at all. We keep popping in and out. Camera on. Camera off. I’ve got three Zoom Post attendee tabs open on my computer right now. That’s all that’s left to remember them by. 

It makes me feel like I’m not existing, and that’s terrifying. I want to say that waving is an attempt to sort of make things feel more normal and grounded, but I’m not sure if that works. I never left a class by vigorously waving at all my peers simultaneously and then, like, spontaneously combusting. Hovering over the “leave meeting” button does not equate to accidentally following a classmate out of Bryan Hall and then awkwardly making eye contact as they hold the door open for you at New Cabell. It’s not the same thing! 

Really it’s not. But waving is sweet, so I have done it every time, and I will continue to do it every time. Not the same, but a different normal, maybe. Think about it. 

 

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