First, I will speak to the excitement aspect of Zoom by giving you a sneak peek at what is coming your way: You will be invited to a Zoom Party on 10-10-2020! This once in a life-time event will celebrate the launching of my memoir and my 75th birthday. It will be a reunion featuring all my favorite family members and friends.

I love my memoir’s title: Fear, Folly & Freud: A Psychotherapist in Psychoanalysis. Invitations will be sent through email and you will have the opportunity to RSVP. I am still planning the agenda so if you have suggestions, let me know.This celebration will be 50 minutes to honor the psychoanalytic hour so the likelihood of exhaustion from this event is minimal.

If you are accustomed to work that keeps you glued to the Zoom screen, it is probable you have felt not only the excitement of a Zoom meeting but the exhaustion. Perhaps you have wondered why you were so tired? I have a few thoughts for you.

room 6.20, A Sketchbook for Analytic Action, is a publication developed because the power of psychoanalysis, literature, culture, and the arts facilitate social change. The editors explain the need for room in psychoanalytical language: “We are living in an era defined by its historically unique acceleration of events, a convergence of major social movements, and shifts of unprecedented scale.”

room is a fascinating read because professionals from many countries, who use a psychoanalytic lens, have contributed short articles about their lives. Most of the contributors describe the experience of moving their offices to their homes and speak to how it is working with their patients virtually.

Gianpiero Petriglieri, who lives in Fontainebleau, France, trained as a psychiatrist and is now a business school professor. He tweeted about the exhaustion of attending Zoom meetings. Gianpiero, who uses a psychoanalytic lens, shared his thoughts and an email address in room, so I sent him a message. He replied within a few hours, thanking me for my kind words and provided me with more information.

Gianpiero’s main point, at least from my perspective, is that the exhaustion we feel after a Zoom meeting is that our eyes record presence, (we see the other) while our bodies register absence. We are neither with nor without each other. The tension that occurs as we try to put together these differing inputs takes an enormous amount of energy.

He also says that it is difficult for us to be in Zoom meetings because in ordinary life, different locations call forth in us different selves. For example, we exhibit a different self when we are at home, at work, or at play. We even wear different clothes. The screen location we sit in front of is the always the same. And, he points out something that I have also noticed, the weirdness of being confronted with the reality of our own face. (I’ve made a conscious decision to no longer look at myself on screen and it helps.)

In closing, I would like to share an idea that Gianpiero offered comparing a Zoom meeting to a seance. It made me smile to picture a dark room with a table wobbling as a medium attempted to re-establish connection with someone who isn’t there. Sometimes when waiting for the other person to connect, one feels this way.

Watch your inbox for an invitation and know that you can leave our celebration if it becomes too exhausting for your body to determine what is present and what is absence. We may discuss, as I do in the memoir, how sometimes absence can be presence.

Do Zoom meetings exhaust or excite you? Please let me know in the comment section.


2 Responses

  1. Zoom meetings are very exhausting to me, but only when it’s with more than one person. I find it’s so difficult not to talk over one another and to be able to pick up when someone is done talking. All the social cues you get from body language seem to have been removed, and sometimes you don’t know if someone is actually looking at you or multi-tasking and doing something else on their computer. I think soon, if there aren’t already, articles will be written about Zoom meeting protocol.

    It’s interesting though, I was talking to my coworker about me working remotely for basically forever (what!?!?) and how I’m her digital friend because that’s what our relationship is now. It made me think of the idea that one day we’ll all be uploaded to a server and will live digitally. (I immediately wanted to go camping and turn off all my devices.) I’m super thankful for Zoom though, it allows me to live the life I have. Being able to ‘work’ in South Carolina but ski in Utah is pretty special.

    • Lydia – I was hoping that you would tell me how your Zoom meetings are. We must be related because, I too, find meetings with
      more than one person pretty tiring – unless of course there is a good moderator and everyone is muted for the most part.

      It is amazing that you can still work in South Carolina! So glad for you. Also so happy that you will be at my party!

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