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Zoomed out: the surreal nonsense of the online meeting cannot end soon enough

Over the past year, virtual gatherings have stifled creativity, limited conversation—and made us less human

By Stefan Stern  

Photo: Girts Ragelis / Alamy Stock Photo

It was all those faces, the faces staring back. Not scary faces. Not ugly ones. But so many of them on my laptop screen, all at once. Through lockdown I had successfully avoided getting dragged into too many Zoom sessions, only dipping into this online world when I had to or wanted to. This is one of the few privileges of the stay-at-home self-employed worker.

But it finally hit me, probably several months after everybody else: the weird, surreal nonsense of the online “meeting” (and yes, I insist on those quotation marks).

All those boxes on the…

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