By Julia Kotaev

Back in March, we began hearing three words that a pandemic-wrought world suddenly had to accept — with no concrete context behind them.

These words were a general statement, quickly mustered up on the spot, ensuing from unknowing attitudes at the beginning of the pandemic. 

The words? The new normal. 

What came along with the new normal was a reformed way of communicating. Prior to the pandemic in the professional world, video conferences occurred occasionally, but not commonly. 

They were an option, not a necessity. This rapidly changed as safety measures forced a fast-paced change to working remotely from home. 

At the start of the shutdown, Zoom calls were pleasantly accepted. They were featured in advertising campaigns, highlighting virtual happy hours and celebrations, as well as an ability to stay in touch with loved ones. That very same transition came to professional and academic environments.

Interviews can now be conducted with you wearing a presentable top and comfy pajama bottoms, as long as you look presentable waist-up in your camera’s view. Gone are the days where you would walk into an office building and get a sense of the company culture — no more hand-shaking or passing over your business card without gloves. It’s the little things that make all the difference now that normal practices have shifted.

Not much has changed for video meetings, but one thing that definitely has is the increase in video conferencing, essentially to a degree where it’s too excessive. It seems as if between my internships and extracurriculars, everything is conducted through Zoom. Most Zoom calls I’ve participated in could easily be emails, but I suppose it’s because everyone misses the face-to-face interaction. 

But that’s the thing: face-to-face interaction. 

I’ve been in several calls where everyone’s video is on but mine and I wouldn’t turn mine because I just wasn’t in the mood to be presentable that day. I looked tired. On a video call, I’d feel as if I’d have to put concealer on to hide my under eye circles and I can’t wear a crop top. 

But I could sense the disadvantage to having my video off in some meetings. They couldn’t see my facial expressions, so I was missing out on that sense of face-to-face dialogue. Although in a way, that benefited me. I could speak more freely due to not having everyone look at me in person.

Back when Skype was a thing, I’d use it for fun with my friends when there was nothing else to do. FaceTime wasn’t as common and even though we now have group FaceTime, it doesn’t necessarily translate to professionalism. Zoom is the next best alternative, and quarantine showed us a plethora of ways to utilize it fully. 

We have to credit the surplus in Zoom calls to subtly missing in-person interaction. It’ll be interesting to see how people interact when we all return to offices. 

Will Zoom continue to prevail? Will some maybe prefer video calls instead of in-person meetings? Will anyone miss using Zoom? 

There are several questions, but we won’t know the answers till the time comes. 

For now, I’ll continue to attend every meeting, maybe with my video on.