On our lunchtime walk, Sally and I were discussing so-called “Zoom fatigue” and how some people just would rather not turn on their cameras. The result are people who follow protocol (as opposed to hard and fast rules) and they then experience a heightened level of fatigue because they are unable to properly (intuitively?) feel the conversation. If anything, there’s additional pressure because the people on camera get no visual feedback from those initials staring back at them on the screen. This is normal and it is, frankly, human nature. We look for visual cues when we’re in a face-to-face conversation.
Avatars are different. The avatar is not you, per se, but it does fool our basic instincts regarding face-to-face communication, at least to some degree. Most people, after all, understand that an avatar is not “the” person. That said, the avatar is most definitely another version of that person, or of you, and it becomes increasingly more so over time.
Think of business clothes, like suits, assuming anybody still wears a suit and tie . . . . more people understand that the suited version of you may not represent the ‘real’ you, but it is another version of you. I’ll go so far as to suggest that a good avatar choice may, in fact, do a better job of presenting the ‘real’ you if you happen to be socially awkward of find Zoom calls uncomfortable. To solve some of these video-conferencing problems, we all need to start getting comfortable with our avatars.
So, from my avatar to yours (eventually), cheers!