the joy of Zoom meetings, and why most states aren't enforcing quarantine

Many of us (hopefully) had socially distanced holiday gatherings this year. In some ways, Zoom can be great for big family get-togethers even in normal times, allowing you save money on airfare and spare yourself the “social allergens” that can irritate even the most loving of families.

Personally, though, I still prefer in-person socializing, when it’s safe again. There are too many awkward pauses in Zoom, you can’t really read peoples’ body language, and the terrible little wave-and-search-for-the-leave-button at the end is a little too tragic.

What I don’t prefer are in-person business meetings. Call me crazy, but I like a Zoom meeting! I find they go faster because everyone is slightly uncomfortable—the same philosophy behind standing meetings. In a nice, warm, sunny conference room, sometimes with bagels, people tend to really kick back and mind-share all the stuff they could have put in an email. Over Zoom, everyone is anxious to go back to literally anything else, so they keep it brief.

Zoom feels artificial, but business meetings are already full of artifice. The medium fits the message, in this case. Two people sitting in a room, with one evaluating the others’ performance, is already a very strained and awkward setup. But if you do it over Zoom, you can blame the awkwardness on the platform. You already need to be very careful what you say to your colleagues, so why not be talking to a screen?

Also, I like the “enhance appearance” feature, which saves me about 20 minutes a day that I would be otherwise putting on makeup. (Not so great, though, when someone filming me for something once told me to press the “enhance my appearance” button, and it was already on :)

And is it just me or is it easier to keep meeting-presentation anxiety in check when the people watching aren’t actually in the room with you? I find talking into the friendly black eye of my Macbook camera much more soothing than talking to a big room of actual humans.

What I’m saying is that Zoom is an underrated tool for meetings, and even after the pandemic is over, I hope we keep using it for them. But not for happy hours, hell no.


I was on Scott Barry Kaufman’s podcast to talk about my book! (It’s the fittingly named—and wonderful— “Psychology Podcast.”) Scott’s latest book is Transcend, about self-actualization—something I’ve yet to achieve but which sounds lovely.

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I wrote about how Hawaii is really the only state enforcing quarantine rules for people who might have been exposed to COVID-19. For other states, it’s a mix of a lack of manpower, a lack of will, and the fact that many workers say their bosses won’t let them stay home to quarantine. (More on this issue here.)