Coronavirus quarantine zoom fatigue is real: why it’s okay to say no


Here I am much happier reading a book than being trapped in a Zoom video night.

Bonnie Burton / CNET

For the latest news and information on the coronavirus pandemic, visit WHO and CDC websites.

Inasmuch as introverted writer who fortunately work from home, self-isolation has always been a snap. My friends must sometimes corrupt me with fancy cheese and Star Trek Wine just to lure me out of my apartment.

Family and friends haven’t always understood my self-imposed hermit lifestyle. But with the world locked out to prevent the spread of COVID-19[female[feminine, being an introvert finally makes me feel like a cool kid. My preference for staying at home is now the new normal.

I no longer need to come up with credible excuses for turning down party invitations. I can happily enjoy my usual solo activities such as reading Sand man comics, making star wars puppets, watching horror films and contact the spirits with my Ouija board. What I appreciate most about this confinement is that a lot of people seem to learn that loneliness isn’t such a bad thing. Or so I thought.

Lately some of my more outgoing friends and acquaintances have flooded my emails, Twitter and Facebook inboxes with invitations to participate in movie listing swaps, exercise challenges, poetry jams and more.

it reminds me of those retro chain letters that existed during my teenage years and threatened to bring bad luck if you didn’t copy the text and send the letter to five other friends. If you don’t give in to peer pressure to maintain the email chain or Twitter / Facebook tagging, it feels like you’re ditching your friends or partying.

There is also a strange new pressure to respond to email inquiries at share recipes and food photos. I love baking, but when it starts to be a contest to show the perfect loaf of banana bread, I’m having hives. I don’t wanna turn my life into The Great British Pastry Fair.

Then there are all the Zoom / Skype / FaceTime / Google and Netflix viewing night requests. Video conference has become a kind of lifeline for people who worry about their sudden lack of human contact. But displaying a happy and consistent face for these encounters when I’m afraid for my future due to the COVID-19 crisis has proven to be exhausting.

Still, it’s hard not to feel like a bad friend for turning down all of these invitations, and I’m afraid to sound selfish and ungrateful. It’s not easy to tell my loved ones that I need to spend some time alone with my own self-care, especially when, for some, social activity with others is as important to them as time alone is to me. But our ongoing lockdown makes it clearer to me than ever – being honest with friends is more important than making your way through a Zoom dance party.

So I’m here to say that it’s okay to want to snuggle up and cry instead of joining a Google Hangout happy hour. Watch your favorite movie without making fun with friends like a virtual Mystery Science Theater 3000 it’s good. Refusing to share recipes or take on a push-up challenge doesn’t make you a bad friend. We are who we are. We can be good friends without taking part in all the challenges.

Do not mistake yourself. I love my friends and am grateful that they are watching me to make sure I don’t fall into a depression pit. But just because I don’t accept all invitations to video outings or recipe swaps doesn’t mean I’m about to jump off a cliff.

Please leave me in peace to go out with my Ouija board.

Bonnie Burton / CNET

The “I don’t want to be social” excuse may seem like a cry for help for those who don’t understand that not everyone is crying out for face-to-face contact right now. Just because introverts are stuck inside doesn’t mean we suddenly want to constantly socialize on Zoom, Google Hangouts, FaceTime, and Facebook.

While the understanding of introverts has grown in recent years with far-reaching books like The calm of Susan Cain, were often misunderstood as antisocial. This is not the case. We love to spend time with friends. But it’s more a question of quality than quantity.

I really enjoy one-on-one chats with friends, but a Zoom chat with 16 people at a time feels like you’re at a crowded party in a broom closet. Too many people talk to each other is a nightmare.

Another misconception is that introverts are emotionless and cold. Not true either. We are an empathetic and emotional group.

I found myself trying to explain this feeling of anxiety and depression over the effects of the pandemic (job layoffs, canceled events, loss of life) doesn’t go away just chatting with bored friends King tiger. I don’t want to be a Debbie Downer when all of my friends are thrilled to be hanging out online. But I’d rather be true than false at times like these.

My Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram feeds are full of positive affirmations urging everyone to give their best during this pandemic, and it’s starting to feel like there’s unrealistic pressure to become your ultimate creative being under lockdown.

I admit that I first encouraged everyone to write comics, paint animal portraits and make puppets. Yes Shakespeare is said to have written King Lear during her self-quarantine from the plague, why can’t I write the great American novel or some other masterpiece in my own isolation? But the longer this confinement lasts, the less creative I feel.

I have mentally quit more than once. I cried my eyes as I organized my craft supplies. I had a meltdown when I discovered that the last piece was missing from the puzzle that took me hours to complete. My paintings could probably double as Rorschach inkblots that determine mental health. Everyone wants to know what I’m working on, when in reality making my bed seems like a huge achievement.

We live in uncertain times, with a daily wave of bad news constantly flooding our social media feeds, so do what makes you most comfortable. If you feel better with one-on-one chats rather than Zoom groups, say so. If you hate recipe swapping but love to share cute puppy gifs, then do that instead. You can contact someone without having to put them on a Google calendar.

Telling your friends and family “thank you, but no thank you” because you need time to process reality is well within your rights. Those friends and family will always be there, whether you share photos of your Richly decorated Doctor Who cookies or not.


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