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Why do we all use our webcams if no one looks at each other?

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It’s kind of weird when you’re the only one in a work meeting not using the webcam. A sea of ​​floating heads nod and look to the side like dutiful employees, and yours is just a gaudy grayish circle icon that looks like your face never quite finished rising.

It must look to your coworkers like you’re busy pooping all day or like you’re in witness protection or have your face smashed like Tom Cruise in vanilla heaven after turning left on a bridge. At the very least, it seems antisocial.

Of all the technological inventions of the last 30 years, the webcam is perhaps the most annoying. Our laptops are incredibly personal devices, and right on top of them is a camera that’s always pointed at your face, much like an ATM or self-checkout camera to make sure you’re not stealing. The Q key was missing when I got here, I swear.

please no cameras

Suffice to say, I don’t like them, and I tend to never activate my webcam unless absolutely necessary, like recording myself tap dancing or practicing my lightsaber moves. This is obviously a personality based reaction. I tend to be the type of person who doesn’t take many selfies, and if at a party someone starts filming, they usually get a great shot of me looking like I’m about to punch them.

This attitude can be a bit awkward when you’re a remote worker and have never met your boss or coworkers in person. This is probably the wrong way I’m looking at it: I’ll be on time and do a good job, but I didn’t agree to be on camera while doing it.

Also, I activated my webcam for job interviews to get the job, isn’t that enough? How much must a man sacrifice?

Many are totally comfortable with cameras everywhere in our lives and activate their webcam during work meetings without even thinking. It’s become default, almost polite, and maybe I’m the jerk for not participating (I am in most situations). We all understand that visual cues aid communication, and that activating your webcam helps make potentially alienating virtual meetings a little more personal.

On camera without being on camera

I agree, but that’s not what happens in most work meetings. No one looks at each other or interacts with the camera in a social way. They’re clicking through other websites, looking into the distance, checking their phone, petting their cat, etc., which is fine, but I don’t need to look at a sea of ​​disinterested faces, and we all better have the webcams. turned off (and to be fair and avoid this, I also turn off their video streams).

Obviously, direct eye contact with webcams isn’t entirely plausible, and even without eye contact, seeing a person’s face as they speak adds context to tone and meaning. More often than not, though, that’s not what happens: we just see a blank stare on five or ten faces with their rooms behind them or whatever artificial (usually geeky) background they set up.

Obviously, many aren’t even in their virtual meeting tab and are looking at another page, so essentially everyone is facing the camera without looking at each other’s faces, as if doing so turns them into sand. And here I thought I was missing something.

None of these little criticisms means that I somehow know how to conduct virtual business meetings better. A virtual meeting where you have to be more visually involved and that involves eye contact sounds exhausting, and I enjoy the informal “This is a work meeting, but feel free to look around and pee” atmosphere. That’s always better than a real boardroom meeting where you’re sitting around a long table putting on your best attention face.

At the end of those kinds of meetings, I’m usually slumped back in my chair, staring into space until my boss says something like, “Chason, is there anything you want to add?” “I’m not well.”

So I’m not complaining, and if the virtual meeting has like three or four people and we’re having a goofy, friendly conversation, I sometimes (sometimes) leave my webcam on. But most of the time, Selfless Floating Heads Watching Other Things isn’t something I’m excited about tuning into or being filmed.

In any case, it would take too long to clean the dry patch of concrete my webcam is covered with.

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