Opinion: Unhealthy Zoom FaceTime habits


Every Sunday morning, we Zoom with our fellow church members. We begin by praying … that the link will work. I don’t like Zoom. I always fear I’ll end up in the center square, and I’m not as funny as Paul Lynde on “Hollywood Squares.” Or worse, I’ll be in a bottom square and I’m not as good looking as the father on “The Brady Bunch.”

Some people just put up a photo of themselves because they are having a bad hair year. I hate being on camera. On TV, I made my photographer pull way back once I turned 65. I wanted viewers to know they were watching the news and not a rerun of “The Walking Dead.”

When we have Wi-Fi issues during Zoom services, my face freezes and people don’t know if I’m thinking about the sermon or have just fallen asleep. One of the newer church members forgot to mute herself and said to her husband, “He had a lot more personality on TV.”

I slouch, so I look like I married a younger woman — one who’s 2 feet taller than I am. And then, all you can see is the very top of my head. Several people have texted my wife and asked her why my hairline receded so much during the pandemic.

We sometimes use FaceTime. We never know whether to choose the vertical or horizontal orientation on the phone. Mary Ellen and I sat on the couch once and experimented with different positions (that sounds like a lot more fun than it was).

Last week, we FaceTimed with our friends the Goslings at dinnertime, to enjoy our meals while we chatted. The Goslings heated a Trader Joe’s pizza. We picked one up from a local pizzeria. I’m not a competitive person, but our pizza looked a lot tastier than theirs, meaning it was greasier and less healthy. Without any warning, Dan reached out of frame for a garden salad they had prepared. Mary Ellen immediately switched off the camera.

“What are you doing?” I asked my wife.

“I’m so embarrassed. They are having vegetables. We just have pizza. This is not good for my reputation as a health-conscious person.”

With that, Mary Ellen ran to the fridge and returned a few seconds later with a coffee mug filled with a healthy side dish.

“I’m sorry,” she said to Dan and Noel. “I forgot the carrot sticks. We eat carrot sticks at every meal. Even breakfast. And between meals. And that darn pizza place forgot to put the broccoli and cauliflower on my half of the pizza.”

We had a lovely dinner. The Goslings were fun to talk to, even though they were in a vegetative state.