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News Archives

How Zoom Era Has Ruined Conversation

Wednesday May 12th, 2021

By : Rachel Kurzius
Source : Microsoft News

When Rabbi Hannah Goldstein would talk to families before a funeral in pre-pandemic times, she remembers how they would share information about a loved one with her. Everyone tended to “jump in, and someone corrects a detail and then someone adds another piece of it,” recalls Goldstein, who works at Temple Sinai in D.C. “It’s collaborative. It’s like everyone’s sort of telling that story together. Oftentimes, I think when you’re remembering a loved one, it’s like you’re telling these beloved stories that everyone’s told a million times, so everyone has their little detail that they love to share.”

That style of conversation — a freewheeling ebb and flow where people interrupt one another — is much harder to pull off in the video communications necessitated by the coronavirus pandemic. Suppose someone is speaking and another person, eager to express agreement, chimes in at the end of their sentence. Over Zoom, this tends to derail the discussion or narrative: Rather than a relatively smooth interruption, as might happen face-to-face, the attempt to talk creates moments of “Oh, no, you go ahead.” Awkward lengthy pauses are common. Then there’s the turn-waiting, known from everyone’s school days as raising your hand. 

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