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Who knew? Looking at yourself on Zoom all day is really, really stressful

Zoom users are sick of looking at themselves during online meetings and it’s causing additional stress and fatigue, according to a new study.

New research from the Stanford Virtual Human Interaction Lab say the endless stream of remote work video calls are causing “Zoom fatigue” and it’s somewhat down to seeing too much of ourselves on screen during the meetings.

“Imagine in the physical workplace, for the entirety of an 8-hr workday, an assistant followed you around with a handheld mirror, and for every single task you did and every conversation you had, they made sure you could see your own face in that mirror. This sounds ridiculous, but in essence this is what happens on Zoom calls,” the study asserts (via FT).

Related: Is Zoom safe?

It continues: “Zoom users are seeing reflections of themselves at a frequency and duration that hasn’t been seen before in the history of media and likely the history of people.”

The study cites previous research on the affects of seeing oneself mirrored for extended periods of time. Previous studies have suggested that seeing ourselves too often can lead to negative self-evaluation.

The study also points out that the “long stretches of direct eye gaze and faces seen close up” with colleagues on Zoom calls is behaviour that was previously reserved for our closer, more personal relationships. The author also remarks that, unlike the real world, participants in a Zoom call are often the subject of constant eye gaze even when they’re not speaking.

It also looks at the need to constantly modify non-verbal behaviour during the calls, to make it appear that you’re taking notice. That stuff is tiring, man!

The author Jeremy Bailenson argues that Zoom could relieve users with a few changes, including hiding the self-view screen as the default setting. The author also suggests limiting the size of our heads in the frame. Businesses could also be more proactive by making more meetings audio only too, he says.

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