Am I disconnecting from connection?

Zoom fatigue and the need for connection.

We are delighted to share this piece from our colleague and friend at Water Aid, Sarah Spencer.   Thank you for being so honest and we’re sure many of our readers will be able to relate to your sentiments!

I’m tired.  Scratch that, I feel exhausted! Since we went into lockdown I have felt a creeping sense of always being ‘on’ and available when family, friends, colleagues and even people I haven’t spoken to in years want me to be.  It’s tiring me out, but it sounds counter-intuitive right? Surely, we have more downtime currently. That’s what we’re being told at least.  Now is the time to pause, slow down and reflect isn’t it?  So then why do I feel so exhausted and why does my heart sink every time I get invited to yet another video call?

I’ve been getting really curious about this as the weeks roll by in lockdown.  As an extrovert who loves being around people, it’s worried me that I have an increasing urge to disconnect. I find myself searching for new, believable reasons that will excuse me from yet another virtual pub quiz (and I love a pub quiz).  People are starting to think I have an over-zealous hair washing habit!

I decided to research the human impact of virtual connection and came to the conclusion that it’s more tiring than being face-to-face. Our senses are working in new ways to pick up on non-verbal clues, some attention is given over to looking at ourselves staring back at us and navigating what people are trying to say when connections drop. All sounds plausible as to why I’m feeling so exhausted, but it still felt like I was missing something. Then it hit me this week.

A friend messaged me the day after our new weekly Tuesday night zoom call with old school friends, saying ‘I enjoyed the chat last night & getting into how people were feeling a bit more, rather than everyone saying they’re fine’. Aha – that’s it!  I suddenly realised that most of the video calls I had been on involved more than just me and one other person and that led me to notice that as the number of people went up, my ability to properly connect, I mean really share how I’m feeling and hear what’s going on for them, went down.  In person, we might gather with a group of people, but we always have the opportunity for side-conversations where quite often the vulnerable, reality check of what’s going on for us takes place.  This is what I’m missing.

So, I’m not disconnecting from connection after all.  In fact, I’m craving more one to one, honest and open conversations. In the panic to ensure that I didn’t disconnect, I have inadvertently over-connected in a way that is draining and unfulfilling for me.  My challenge now is to re-connect with those people I would normally choose to and really focus on having quality conversations with them rather than focusing on the quantity of video calls. Perhaps I’ll even learn to be honest and just say ‘No’ when I don’t want to join another group call. I am running out of good excuses anyway!

If you would like to have a chat about anything, please get in touch.

By Sara Hope
28.04.2020

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