Over a year ago, “Zoom” was nothing more than a 1970s kids’ show or a word we’d occasionally use to indicate we were in a hurry. But in March of 2020, the word—or rather the teleconferencing platform to which it refers—quickly gained popularity. As the pandemic intensified and working from home became the new norm, Zoom immediately beat out Skype and Google Hangouts as the preferred teleconferencing platform. Since then, it has become a part of our daily vernacular and has dominated various aspects of our lives.
Throughout the past year of Zooming, there has been a lot of Zoom slander, for lack of a better word. And while I agree that online classes are nothing compared to a real-life lecture hall and that sitting through virtual meetings for hours can be draining, there are some significant benefits to the video-conferencing platform.
First and foremost, Zoom and similar platforms have completely changed the work environment. The days of commuting to work, or even flying across the country for meetings, are long gone. The world has now seen that remote work is indeed possible, and it will likely continue in the future. In fact, a survey from Enterprise Technology Research found that the percentage of people permanently working from home is expected to double in 2021.
Zoom has also revolutionized other aspects of everyday life. No longer required to make it all the way to town hall, community members can Zoom into city government meetings to have their voices heard. Zoom has also allowed people to join religious services or events they may not have been able to otherwise attend due to time or travel constraints.
Zoom has especially come in handy for me this semester. As someone who is taking a leave of absence, the app is the main way I’ve managed to stay connected to campus. From attending virtual Argus meetings to watching movies with friends (thank you, screen share) to hosting game nights, it has allowed me to foster the connections I’ve made at Wesleyan even when I’m not physically there.
And Zoom allows me connect with more than my Wesleyan friends. My extended family has started to use Zoom to catch up, whether for holidays or just random Saturdays. I’ve also used the app to connect with friends from all aspects of my life, oftentimes inviting all of them to one Zoom call to introduce them to each other (which may sound chaotic but actually goes pretty well).
As with most things, there are some issues with the platform. Pretty soon after Zoom climbed—or should I say zoomed—to the top, people were exposed to the phenomenon of Zoombombing, which instantly prompted questions about the app’s security and privacy. Additionally, while the app has made certain facets of everyday life more accessible, especially given that it’s free, it is entirely dependent on a strong internet connection. It’s also entirely possible that my personal appreciation for the app is a result of not taking any classes this semester and thus not suffering from extreme Zoom fatigue.
But despite its shortcomings, Zoom is undeniably useful. And while we’re all looking forward to packing away our masks when this is all over, this video conferencing platform isn’t going anywhere.
Hannah Docter-Loeb can be reached at email@example.com