Entry 10 Zoomerisms

Consideration:  Virtual elementary education

Reframes – teachers

Opportunity to present a lesson without being interrupted

Power to mute a child who wants to be disruptive

Chance to audition for a role on a television talk show

Create a video for your teacher of the year application

Chance to see yourself in action

Reframes – children

Opportunity to blame the computer for any mistakes

Can’t get sent to the hall for misbehaving

Excuse for not doing school work – not my learning medium

Opportunity to play video games on your hand-held device without getting caught (remember to silence the audio on the game)

Opportunity to exceed expectations

Is chaos the new normal?  If you have been involved in crises planned virtual education of elementary school children you would clearly think so!  It is difficult to figure out which is the bigger disruptor, the COVID or the attempts to control its spread.  At the very least there are a lot more of us who are now familiar with “Zoom” and the experience of virtual interaction.

Virtual interaction as a concept has been around for more than 50 years, as any of you “trekkies,” devoted followers of Star Trek, will remember.  Gene Roddenberry, the originator of the Star Trek television series which began in 1966 was either a genius, visionary, or more likely, an alien.  Consider the concepts that he incorporated in the TV show that are now aspects of everyday life.  Virtual communication was considered an interplanetary standard.  He envisioned hand-held communication devices (cell phones), phasers (tasers) and voice activated computers.  He even created the prototype for Seri and Alexa.  Personally, I am still anticipating the practical use of the transporter so I can beam to destinations without the inconvenience of air travel.

In Roddenberry’s version of virtual communication he was intuitive enough to eliminate any distractions from the background.  While we have the technology, there seems to be a lack of awareness by some of their surroundings, hence the need for “Zoom-erisms.”  Zoomerisms are factors to keep in mind when you invite someone to virtually enter your personal space.  The introduction of virtual education of children has invited a new group of observers to visit our living environments.

For those of you have followed my blog this is a great time for you to participate in the fun.  I’ll start a list of Zoomerisms and then it’s your chance to add your insights.  Who knows, maybe we will generate enough for a coffee table book or one of those theme-oriented calendars.

Zoomerism 101

You may want to think about…

1. What you are wearing

2. What those in your space are wearing, or not wearing

3. What you have lying around or on your walls

4. Reminding those in your space to close the bathroom door when in use

5. Considering your personal hygiene habits (Not the best time to pick your nose)

6. The content of any side conversations

You probably don’t want to…

7. Light up a joint, particularly if you are on a work-related zoom

8. Negotiate a drug deal

9. Arrange for a hit on one of your enemies

10. Break wind and then describe the experience

11. Share the fact that you plan to be away for the next week with no one to watch your place

If your child is on zoom for virtual education…

Numbers – 1-11

12. May not want to express your opinions on the inadequacies of today’s educational system

13. Consider the language that you use either on the phone or in relating to others in the space

14. May not want to arrange a rendezvous with a love interest (You never know who knows who and it could be a real problem if your love interest is your child’s teachers’ current mate)

15, May not be a good time to express your concerns about the limitations of your child’s other parent.

Zoomerisms remind us that technology and humanity coexist and that the humanity, is the more interesting and fun.

Virtual communication certainly has its advantages.  Virtual business meetings can save companies a fortune in travel expense and can be scheduled 24/7 in the wink of an eye.  Families separated by distance can maintain both verbal and visual relationships.  We have witnessed the benefits experienced by those who have been quarantined during the pandemic.

Responding to the COVID virus has resulted in virtual meetings, virtual working from home, virtual church and now virtual education.  I wonder what Roddenberry would be envisioning if he were with us today.  How about “virtual marriage?”  You would only have to interact with your mate when you felt like it and could silence them with a push of the mute.  How about virtual funerals?  An opportunity to create a technologically advanced drive by experience with a reminder to text your condolences.  I wonder what the Emoji would be for that one?  What about virtual intimacy?  Never mind, that already exists.  Virtual childbirth?  No pain, all gain.

Despite its many advantages, “virtual” will never replace our need for “real.”  When it comes to an agreement between two people, an Emoji will never replace a handshake, at least I sure hope not.  A virtual hug will never provide the same comfort as the real thing.  When you feel upset I assume you want to talk to a real person rather than a virtual responder.  Don’t believe me.  Next time you’re really ticked off, tell Seri or Alexa all about it and see if their response alleviates your frustration.  We humans are social creatures that crave interpersonal contact.

We are social creatures that crave interpersonal contact.  No virtual experience could adequately compare with witnessing the birth of a child.  Indict me as old fashioned.  I want a juicy, grilled steak rather than a virtual meal.  I want to stand with a foursome on the fourteenth tee at Coeur de Laine golf course instead of hitting to an island green in a simulator.  You will never see me texting the person that I am sitting with at the dinner table.

Final thought.  They tell me that our destiny is computer generated virtual education for children.  I don’t think so.  Artificial intelligence will never have the same impact on a child as the attention of a concerned parent or teacher.

Keith Neuber                                     www.ikan2.com                               keith@ikan2.com

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