Back in the strange, still, early days of lockdown, when the sun beat down endlessly from a blue and silent sky and I was woken up early every morning by the unnatural quiet: there was a sort of underlying frenzy that acted in contrast to the inertia of the days. It was the incessant sound of pings and beeps as our phones and computers went mad with WhatsApp messages and Zoom invitations.
Trapped at home, with only immediate family for company (if we were lucky), the need to communicate with our wider networks became, for a time, incredibly urgent.
This compulsion manifested itself in surprising, and sometimes delightful ways – my husband got up at 4.30 in the morning one day to dial into a Zoom check-in with two of his best buddies from university, one in Oregon, the other in Hong Kong; while a previously sporadic WhatsApp group with my oldest group of school friends morphed into a weekly Zoom hangout where we drank wine and competed on whose life had become the most boring.
Zoom fatigue set in after a few weeks, and I got more discerning about who I wanted to communicate with. Some interactions, like my school-pal chats, were genuinely life-affirming events that I looked forward to; others highlighted the fact that real life acquaintances do not always pass the screen test. I was struck by how little I missed some people, and how much I came to rely on regular check-ins with others.