Culture, Culture / Digital Culture

Angry Nerd: The Merciless, Unblinking Eye of Zoom

The skin above my left eyelid is migrating. Where it’s headed, I’m not sure. All I can glean from the giant image of me on Zoom is: downward. Perhaps the skin is seeking rest on the pillows that have appeared below my eyes. (Hello, my wrinkly Eastern European foremothers—I see you in my face.) Day after day, for eight, nine, 17 weeks now, logging on and off and on again, waiting for coworkers to arrive in endless Zoom rooms, there I am. Staring at me. I’ve seen the droop drop, the lines etch, the chins multiply. Oh, those chins! Between meetings, I feel their weight. Even when I turn the camera off, walk away, the insecurities follow. My mind disobeys reason and wanders to them, ad nauseam. Blam: It’s like I’m 20 again, spending far too much time in these tedious loops. The gift of being extra decades older is you live through shit-happened (and therapy), and with that comes the knowledge of what is and is not truly important. Important: the health of my family members, people losing their jobs. Not important: the state of my face folds. (Debatably important: which wrinkle cream to buy.) Yeah, yeah, I know. Filters, backgrounds, soft lighting, $4 apps that can frame me in complementary colors. Or, hell, just turn off the video so I can’t see myself or be seen. Can’t do that, though. You might as well tell me to turn off my face walking down the street. Zoom is life now. I see you, you see me. Still, I hear that it might be safer during a pandemic to Zoom in masks.


This article appears in the July/August issue. Subscribe now.


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