Zoom fatigue: sorry, I don't want to join your virtual catch-up

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images 

We are living in unprecedented times; I get it. This pandemic-induced isolation has affected us all, as most of us adapt to spending more time at home.

Some of us have lost our jobs, others are simply finding they've got extra time because they're no longer travelling to and from the office, or meeting friends for drinks on a Saturday afternoon.

Some of us are thriving in isolation, while for others it's an anxiety-inducing time. But we're all just doing the best we can with all this uncertainty.

I don't know about you, but I've been hearing from loads of people from my past – some recent and some distant (current record is a ghost from over 25 years ago) – who all want to catch up on Zoom, or FaceTime, or Skype.

And, look, that sounds lovely, and I get that some are craving human connection right now, but I'm so busy. In fact, I think I'm busier now than I was before.

But it's not just about busy, of course, it's also about emotional energy – at the end of the day, I have a mere skerrick of the stuff left, and I'd like to keep that for myself please.

I'm lucky enough to still be working, although my paid workload has been cut in half.

For some that would equal more spare time, but for a freelance writer, that equals me out there pitching and hustling for more work. Pitching and hustling also requires emotional energy as I try to come up with creative ideas, then steel myself for both acceptance and rejection.

And while I used to work at home in peace and quiet, I am now in a house with my partner, who is working from the next room, and my three children, all of whom are currently homeschooling.

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So now I work in 15-minute bursts in between someone coming to my office and requiring my attention to help them with a problem, talk about what's for lunch, or just tell me they're thinking they are going into the back garden to use some balled up socks to do shot put, and would I like to watch?

And, again, it's lovely having everyone around. I adore them all. But by the end of the day I'm spent.

All I want to do is put on some trackies, hit the couch with my partner and watch Ozark. Maybe it's the introvert in me, but I find the idea of spending my evenings catching up with people exhausting.

We'd be foolish to think we're all experiencing this crazy time in the same way, and I know some of us are reaching out for that human connection, but I've got human connection coming out the wazoo.

I'm not sitting around bored, wondering what to do with my sudden surfeit of spare time. I'm in isolation with my family, wondering when I'm going to get to the three excellent books on my bedside table, the one loaded into my Audible account, the six podcasts I'm dying to listen to, and the sourdough starter I just impulse bought from a lady I discovered on Facebook because I forgot for a second that I'm busy.

I'm someone that avoids talking on the phone at the best of times, and lockdown does not make it more attractive. And now there's no polite way of turning down a call – everyone knows we're all home, all the time, so I can't say I already have plans.

I've actually taken to a far more wacky approach: telling the truth.

"Sorry," I reply. "I don't have the energy for Zoom catch-ups at the moment, but I'd love to hear about what you've been up to via email. And maybe we can meet up for a wine when this is all over."

Narrator: "They will never meet up for wine."

So by all means, please shoot me an email or a Facebook message and let's have a chat that way. I'd love to hear from you. But please don't ask me to give up my evenings. I don't even have the time and energy to catch up with most of my close friends and family, who I am missing badly at the moment.

It's not you, it's me. And that's going to have to be okay.