Are you missing real life? You’re probably thinking, ‘this is real life’, the Matrix isn’t a true story (as far as we know anyway).
But, lockdown has made everything less real. It’s moved us much quicker into a world where we mainly interact via a screen. This change makes complete sense and not just because of the current circumstances. We’re now starting to question why we ever sat on a crowded train for three hours to attend a one-hour meeting, when we can do it just as effectively by logging on from home.
Video calls have been the saviour during the dark days of the pandemic. It has allowed us to look someone directly in the eye when sharing an idea, which is a huge part of how we communicate. There is however still a slight disconnect. It’s a bit like watching a live event compared to watching it on TV. If you’re watching something live you’re much more present – the atmosphere is inescapable and you’re sharing that moment with other people. Apart from being entertaining, live music, theatre and comedy allows us to share an experience or emotion. It’s in equal parts escapism and reassuring – the feeling of ‘it’s not just me’.
Have you ever sat in the front row at a stand-up comedy show? For the non-extroverts amongst us it can be both a hilarious yet terrifying experience – with the fear of becoming part of the show at any moment. But this atmosphere and added adrenaline means that you are fully part of the experience – you’re not ‘safe’ to just switch off.
We’re not suggesting that the key to engagement is making people feel uncomfortable but it does show that sometimes to feel fully part of something you need to be prepared at any moment to share your opinion or fight your corner. The safety of a screen can prevent us from speaking up, we feel slightly protected and hidden away. This is part of the reason why online trolling is such a huge problem. The anonymity makes people feel that they can write whatever they like without the shame of looking someone in the eye whilst doing it.
There’s no doubt that online communication has many positives. For time efficiency and helping with work-life balance the video call has become indispensable. There are also a number of online tools that can help us to share ideas as if we were in the same room. Having a workshop seemed pretty impossible before lockdown but as time has gone on we have adapted and found the best ways to make it work.
Now that we’re using it more, perhaps it’s time we took inspiration from live performance to make our online meetings more theatrical and engaging. If lockdown has taught us anything, it’s to be creative and to think outside the box. If we can’t be there ‘live’ then let’s make our online interactions feel as dynamic and ‘real’ as possible.
As Shakespeare said “all the world’s a stage” so let’s make everyone feel part of the performance.