What happened to the telephone?

I’ve noticed an interesting phenomena in These Strange Times. I might be late to the party in noticing this, but hey, fuck it, shoot me. Whereas it’s obvious to all concerned – and there has been much written about this – that we’re all spending forever on Zoom calls, this one is everso slightly not this.

The phenomena is this: whereas before lockdown it was totally ok to talk to a client on the phone, now it’s absolutely expected that we have a video call instead.

I wonder if this is some strange muscle memory (“I spend the days on Zoom, so might as well be Zoom”) or maybe it’s just more convenient, or maybe because it’s free – but either which way, it’s strange. There’s literally no reason for me to see your face, but for some reason that’s now the norm. Whereas before we were totally content to talk on the phone and then maybe jump into a video call when we needed to share something or see each other’s face – now, not so much.

Related to this, check out this rather excellent post: Introducing Jel: the un-Zoom – it’s a really interesting thought piece into why and how we interact in virtual meeting spaces, what 3D means, and so on. Then – if you’re willing to try something that on the face of it seems rather strange, give the actual Jel app a go, too. I had a go last week with a friend and after you get past the fact that you’re not on a video call and are being represented on screen by what looks like a squashed M&M, it’s actually rather good.

2 thoughts on “What happened to the telephone?”

  1. You’re a home worker aren’t you? You’re used to a higher degree of social isolation than those now faced with “working from home”. They crave the “coffee station” and the “walk down the corridor”. Zoom provides a surrogate for them in their lonely existance, so much so they bring their coffee to their meetings with you, whereas you just long for the call to end so that you can walk to the kitchen and make your own, in private, in peace, or in the company of those you care for.

    • You’re right, but it’s strange to me how video calls are considered more of a surrogate for that activity than a phone call.

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