During this time of social distancing, meetings, concerts, reunions, sports events and celebrations are on hold. Glossy multi-colored flyers with pictures of luxury vacation resorts, graduation announcements and embossed wedding invitations printed on elegant vellum no longer tumble out of my tiny pigeon-hole mailbox.
Participating in an online Zoom forum is a practical and safe alternative to the tangible personal contact of a friendly handshake or quick hug. It offers the ultimate pairing of social interaction and social distancing, while providing an opportunity to visually connect with people, enjoy lectures, classes and even share Happy Hour.
After receiving a Zoom invitation, I click on the link, and then ‘whooooosh’ my image is instantly sucked into cyberspace where it is magically plopped into a little square box inside the monitors of other participants already in their little square boxes.
Networking with others in isolation is enjoyable, but confidentially, occasionally I pay less attention to the context of the conversation while exploring their personal surroundings.
Often in view are immaculate environments displaying fresh flowers, silver framed family portraits, and stylish furniture upholstered in luxurious fabrics. Shiny glass-topped coffee tables display an array of intellectual books with titles like ‘The Political and Economic History of Europe’ and invariably, the most recent issue of Psychology Today.
I began to wonder how my surroundings were perceived. On the wall behind me haphazardly hangs a collection of oil paintings done years ago when I fancied myself an artist. My coffee table (purchased in 1993 at a yard sale) boasts a ‘Where’s Waldo’ paperback, a half completed jigsaw puzzle of Santa’s Workshop and a large, green pump bottle of Purell. Happy little dust bunnies blithely snooze in their undisturbed haven beneath my sofa.
Creating a pristine, sophisticated environment that will impress my fellow Zoomers became a paramount obsession.
Wayfair offers an extensive Internet bonanza of home décor. I could order a few rolls of bookcase image peel & stick wallpaper giving the illusion I possess an extensive library of scholarly books. A burgundy damask slipcover, embroidered linen throw pillows and a hand made needlepoint Aubusson area rug would suggest warmth and charm. Perhaps a rosewood coffee table topped with a contemporary sculpture and an array of silk ferns in blue and white porcelain planters might add stately elegance. A couple of crystal table lamps with black shades could imply that I have actually read all those wallpaper books.
I lean back in my comfy pink computer chair as I contemplate the substantial cost of new décor, plus the hours of vacuuming, dusting and polishing required to complete my desired cultured ambiance.
Content with my decision, I put down my calculator, close out the Wayfair website, and pour myself another glass of chilled Chardonnay. Now, I just need to choose which of Zoom’s free virtual backgrounds I’ll use.