By Amani Dobson || Campus Life Editor
After nearly a year of the global pandemic, the online video chatting platform Zoom has become a regular part of our lives. From classes, to work meetings, and even calls among friends, we spend a lot of our time staring at computer screens on Zoom. As many know, staring at a screen, and using that as the primary way to communicate, can become tiring to the brain, which leads to what we have deemed “Zoom fatigue”.
The main reason we experience this fatigue is that human beings are social creatures. One of our primary ways of understanding each other is through reading body language. However, on Zoom, that is not really possible. We are staring at people from the shoulders up, stripping away our ability to read people’s mannerisms when we talk to them. This causes our brains to have to work two times as hard to completely process the information we’re receiving on Zoom. But that isn’t the only reason this fatigue exists; the global pandemic has taken away the majority of our daily social interactions. Now we have to rely on Zoom calls as our primary form of communication. As I stated before, looking at people from their computer camera causes us to miss out on their body language. These factors combine to cause mental and psychological strain. That is why after having these same virtual interactions day in and day out, people start to feel physically drained as well.
Taking this mental strain into account when talking about academics, it is clear to anyone that students—who are forced to sit on Zoom for hours every day—may be struggling. Due to the fact that our brains have to work harder to interpret new information, learning while looking at your professor on a computer screen can make it more difficult to fully grasp concepts or feel engaged in the learning process. This is especially true for Franklin & Marshall students. We have at least two 90 minute Zoom classes every day while also trying to juggle the quick turnarounds and plethora of assignments that come along with the module system. For us, it is more difficult to give in to that Zoom fatigue and take time to rest because before you know it, another assignment is due or more reading needs to be done for the next day’s class. I spoke to Destiny Romaine, a student from the Class of 2023, who reflected, “Having to be on Zoom all the time does get tiring, and I feel like the lack of movement from sitting in front of a screen all day makes me feel lazier and less motivated.” It’s very clear that Franklin & Marshall students are struggling to fight this fatigue in order to stay on top of their assignments, but this should not be the case.
It is very normal for people to feel drained from being on their computers all day, and forcing students to push through that while having no time to take care of themselves will only lead to a lower quality of work. Not only that, but the students will also hold on to less of the information they learn in their classes. Overall, forcing yourself to work while your brain is begging for a break will only dissolve the spark and love for learning that existed before the pandemic. In my opinion, the college should make more room for students to rest and recuperate rather than leave them to burn out.
Students can take the Zoom fatigue into their own hands, though. To begin, creating a schedule for each day with built-in time to do something you love or that is not school-related can be helpful. Organizing your assignments and readings can make it much easier to spot such times in the day that you can make for yourself. And because lack of movement is what leads to a lot of the laziness students feel, try making time every day to do yoga, work out, or even go for a walk around your neighborhood. Moving your limbs and getting your blood flowing is a way to gain a lot more energy and motivation for when it’s time to complete assignments after a long day of Zoom. Lastly, know that Zoom fatigue impacts everyone; no one is alone in their feelings of being burnt out. Remember to put your mental and psychological well-being first because you cannot perform your best academically if your mental state is not in a good place.
Sophomore Amani Dobson is the Campus Life Editor. Her email is firstname.lastname@example.org.