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what we lose on zoom

Updated: Jul 9, 2021

There’s so much to be thankful for that we lived through the pandemic of 2021 and not 1918. Firstly because the early 20th century illness was way more deadly, and secondly because we had far, far more home comforts to make isolation bearable, including, but not limited to, zoom. (Other platforms are available of course, but none of them seemed to respond to the upscaling challenge - I’m looking at you, Skype… but I digress).

Remaining connected to family, friends and colleagues was a genuine blessing in what was a bleak and painful time, and the surprise came when we realised that having our relationships meditated by a screen didn’t lessen the authenticity or depth of connection. Friends of mine

who were ministering or offering therapy online quickly found their work had significant impact, making this way of working not the “better-than-nothing“ they’d expected but actually rich and fulfilling.

I’ve connected more with my team, related openly and vulnerably with colleagues, built trusting relationships with people in our wider organisation and others, managed stakeholder relationships and delivered impactful talks and seminars.

I’ve been mentored, spiritually accompanied and coached online, and weekly prayed with my triplet and gathered in our “Make Life More Like Greenbelt” Christian community. I have not just survived but have been enriched by this baptism into online life.

And yet I have discovered the limits of online meetings. A bit like Truman sailing his boat to the horizon and finding the wall, I understand the shape of this world better now: it contains what we already know or can imagine. In our relationships, our insights, our feelings, our work streams, it seems to me that we can make connections via zoom. but we cannot dream in this space, we can’t spark something out of nothing. That spark that happens when people are together focused on ‘what could be but hasn’t been yet’ is hard to create, in my experience - like using a damp matchbox and matches.

So I’ll be continuing in the online world, regardless of when I can legally return to the office or church, but because I’m called to create, I’ll be consciously creating spaces for the spark, too.

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