- Because millions of people are organizing their social and professional lives from home due to the corona pandemic, more and more events are taking place via Zoom or other video platforms.
- As “Insider” reports, some people are overwhelmed by this new situation, which is why many users stare at themselves during a video call instead of keeping eye contact with the other party.
- Cyber psychologist Andrew Franklin says that you are not observed by others as much as you might think.
Lectures, dinners, funerals, weddings and many other events are currently taking place via Zoom or other conference portals. Since we are currently unable to see other people during the Corona curfew, we spend a lot of time chatting video.
As a result of the Covid 19 pandemic, the number of zoom users rose from ten million to just over 300 million daily users within three months. Microsoft Teams gets 75 million and Google Meet 100 million meeting participants a day.
But the whole thing has a catch. Anyone who has ever attended a video conference knows that the format can be challenging.
“A lot of teenagers are involved in something called an imaginary audience. They believe that the people around them really pay attention to their every move, ”says cyber psychologist Andrew Franklin.
“This imaginary public phenomenon disappears [im Erwachsenenalter] not necessarily. People become extremely aware of themselves and think that all eyes are on them. In reality, however, they are not questioned or criticized to the extent that they believe. “
Video chats are more demanding than real interactions
In real life, a conversation is much more than just what is said. In addition to the spoken words, people pay attention to gestures, tone, facial expressions and body language to interpret what is happening.
Many of these non-verbal statements are not clearly visible on videos. A study conducted in 2013 showed that friends who were friends felt less connected with video chats than with personal interactions – because they could not see themselves fully.
“Online, you’ll be directed to a screen that may be the size of a page,” says Franklin. “You miss a lot of information that you might get in a face-to-face conversation. So it may be that people have to work very hard in a zoom meeting. ”
Through personal interactions, several people can have a perfectly understandable conversation, even if several people interrupt each other. Thanks to body language and other social cues, people can process what others are saying, even when they are confused.
It’s different with a video chat. There, an interruption usually means an uncomfortable pause, while everyone quickly checks whether their microphone is muted. Conversation delays that would be normal in a face-to-face meeting are intolerable in video chat. A minimal delay of just a few seconds can make people perceive a person as less friendly, according to a 2014 study.
When someone doesn’t want to interrupt a conference, thoughts are often typed into text chat, further fragmenting the attention of chat participants.
Video conferencing is stressful because users have to stare at the faces of several people in tiny boxes on the screen. In addition, they are easily distracted by the fact that they can look into the homes of all participants. For this reason, many have only the alternative of staring at themselves.
Most people find it difficult with video calls not to focus on themselves all the time. This happens so often that there are already instructions that show how eye contact with the other party can be faked during video calls. In addition, several essays deal with the question of what happens emotionally when a person spends the whole day chatting and watching himself.
If you can’t stop staring at yourself during a video chat, it’s probably because you’re overwhelmed
When you talk to someone in real life, you usually don’t see yourself. During a video conference, however, you can watch how you pronounce the words and how you react to what other people are saying.
When you see yourself, you usually ask yourself how others see you. In connection with longer eye contact, this can be exhausting and uncomfortable. In some cases, people even feel that they have to exaggerate reactions to prove that they are present and listening.
Franklin says that focusing on yourself is one way to deal with the overstimulation of video chatting. Several studies show that many people are too confident about their multitasking skills and information processing.
“Because we only have this finite screen in front of us, we are confident that we can process everything that lies ahead,” explains Franklin. Since everything that happens in a video chat takes place on a relatively small screen, it is believed that it should be easy to process everything. But that is usually not the case.
Many people experience a phenomenon of visual perception called change blindness. The affected person does not notice changes that happen directly in front of him because his attention is elsewhere. It is sometimes the same with a video call because there are just too many things happening at the same time.
For introverts, limited video chat interaction can also be a relief. Franklin advises to concentrate on a certain point, to prepare and recite what has to be said and then to mute the microphone again.
People don’t see you as you think
People should know that the intense scrutiny they think they feel during zoom chats is not really taking place. Everyone sets their focus differently and pays the call their continuous but partial attention.
Also, when video chatting, keep in mind that you may not be able to process everything that is said and that it is okay to feel tired afterwards.
If you feel burned out, you should suggest calling instead, Franklin said. And don’t be afraid to write down what you want to say in advance. If you take notes or walk around during a call, you can concentrate better. And if you still feel too insecure, you can stick a post-it over your own face on the screen.
And remember: Even if you only look at yourself, you don’t need to worry – because everyone else is probably doing the same thing.
Lea Kreppmeier translated and adapted this article from English. You can find the original here.