Please Wear Pants!

Welcome to Author Next Door!

With stay-at-home conditions due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, we’ve all adapted to different ways of connecting. My favorite new tool is ZOOM. Once I figured out how to use the safety features, I’ve had “meetings” with my family, fellow writers, and study groups. In fact, it seems like everyone, including politicians and TV personalities, have discovered the magic of the ZOOM option.

What some people haven’t caught on to is, you need to wear pants. Or use mute.

It’s so easy to have a meeting in your jammies. With a jacket or sweater, you look dressed—until you stand up and show off those ducky flannels, or in the case of Will Reeves, no pants. Guess he thought the scrolling titles at the bottom of the screen had him covered. Not!

Certain politicians who will not be named have stopped meetings mid-discussion when the rest of the group heard their loud “flush” after finishing personal business. Did you not realize you had a “mute” button, guys?

Also, in case you didn’t know, you can choose a “virtual background” so that people aren’t checking your bookshelves behind you to see if you’ve dusted. I like the Aurora Borealis. Maybe one day I’ll get to travel north to see the lights in person. At the moment, not likely. Too many COVID germs on the way.

Or you can pick a well-edited photo to post on screen during your meeting instead of using the camera function if you’re having a bad hair day. Or didn’t wash your ducky flannels.

My sister and her husband have hosted games with us and other couples over ZOOM. We’ve had several hilarious evenings playing QuipLash using screen sharing along with smart phones. Our cleverness, of course, increases with each glass of wine or margaritas. Mental stimulation and humor: win/win.

Grandparents have used ZOOM to read stories and chat with grandkids. Neighbors have had ZOOM dinners, happy hours, book clubs, and cooking sessions. It’s a bonus to connect with people once separated by geography. Plus, no more excuses like, “It’s too far to drive,” or “I don’t like driving at night.” The only good excuse now is either your ISP’s bandwidth is acting up or you had a previous ZOOM commitment. But who would not jump at the chance of visiting with humans other than the ones you’ve been on house arrest with for two months?

I’d like to give a shout out to ALL RISE, one of our favorite TV shows on ABC which has embraced the new normal in a big way by incorporating virtual screen meetings into their script. Actors themselves are having to learn to be their own set, camera, and prop people at home. Their characters on the show are struggling with how to try virtual court cases under restrictive conditions without violating people’s rights. Like all others in real life, show characters also are trying to juggle personal relationship challenges with social distancing rules in place. I love the creativity and resourcefulness of the writers and actors. Great job!

If you haven’t tried ZOOM, I highly recommend it. To understand security issues, take time to watch videos under their “Support” section. As with everything else in life, there’s a safe way to ZOOM.

Have fun, stay safe, use the mute button when appropriate, and please wear pants!

Karen Taylor Saunders