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Blog • May 2020 Virtual me vs reality.

It struck me the other day that with many people working from home and interactions online; how different is the virtual me to reality? I too have been laughing at the #zoomfail videos and experienced a naked man walking into the background of my online pilates class (yes, really), but wonder, do we behave differently online than in person? 

The challenge for us as a design agency is our brainstorming sessions. Usually over a coffee (or three) at the bar, we all get involved in throwing ideas around. It’s a continual back and forth with one person’s idea sparking someone else’s, usually interjected with a lot of banter and noise. Transfer this to a video conference and it’s just not the same. If you speak at the same time, the audio cuts and kills the fast-paced discussion and vibe. Then you have that awkward moment when two people say “No, you go first” at the same time, only to be silent for 5 seconds before both speaking again… AT. THE. SAME. TIME. Arghh. 

First world problems and definitely a small price to pay for our health and safety, but it has made us realise that we have changed the way we interact to compensate for the medium. But how else have we changed?  

Of course, the new dimension to all this is students learning online and I love the experience of my friend’s daughter. Her teacher, Mrs Smith* expects the class to be ready promptly in the morning for roll call, dressed in their uniform and respectable - no ugg boots, hair pulled back and appropriate background, nothing personal or offensive. (I’m failing her class already!)  

At the end of roll call, Mrs Smith had a few things to say about the online behaviour of the class. “I don’t respond ‘hey’ and ‘heya’. It’s not ‘yup and nope’ and I am NOT one of your friends. I am your teacher, so do not ‘LOL or BRB’ me. You will address me with respect and by my name, Mrs Smith!” 

Yes Mrs Smith. 

It’s led me to think about whether we are finding ourselves slipping into shorthand comms (oops, ‘communications’), forgetting where we are and who we’re really talking to? And of course, how many other people have tried turning their video image into a potato filter?

It was a good reminder that whilst all of a sudden we are thrust into the very personal home-life of many colleagues and have to adapt to the technology to be together, we need to remember our p’s and q’s, or we may just find ourselves on Mrs Smith’s* home detention list… oh, wait...

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