There are five levels of self-awareness. Zoom makes the fifth absolutely painful. But luckily, there is a solution.
Researchers have defined the levels of awareness by using a mirror and seeing how babies and others react to it. The research shows there are distinct stages of awareness: that’s a mirror (Level 1); there’s a person in it (Level 2); that person is me (Level 3); that person is going to be me forever (Level 4); and everyone else can see me, too (Level 5). The fifth level is also known as The Dawn of Self Consciousness or “meta self-awareness.”
So, just imagine what can happen with that “meta self-awareness level” if you end up looking at yourself for 8-10 hours a day. I am body positive, but man… Zoom has put a serious magnifier on my level 5 awareness. And because I’m a designer with a constant need to improve what I see around me, my critical eyes aren’t nice to me. “Everyone else can see it” is one thing, but to have to look at yourself all day 5 days a week is just downright damaging.
Almost worse is that my video completely distracts me from the other people on the Zoom. I can’t look away. I find that I’m not speaking to the other people in the virtual room, I am speaking to myself. It’s like a horror show. It’s hard enough to be facing millions of pixels pushing white light into my eyeballs for hours and days on end, but for those to reflect myself too, well that is pure torture.
Then one day it all changed. I can’t remember who on my team said these magic words, but it changed my life: “You can turn off your self view”. What? For real? Yes, it’s true. It’s not in the preferences (oh no, why would it be there?) it’s in the blue box with the three little dots only on the video showing your camera feed. It allows you to be seen by others, just not by you. And just like that, I can remove my image from the screen, and allow my mind to focus fully on the conversation and content at hand. Imagine that!
Why didn’t I discover that years ago? Well, that’s for another time. But there you have it. Problem solved and it cost zero dollars to rectify. So as a public safety announcement. If you suffer from acute Zoom self-evaluation syndrome, there’s help. Plus, you’ll get more out of your time with clients because they are your focus, not you. As it should be.
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