Feeling lonely and blue? A virtual meeting might provide for what ails you

This is not intended to be an endorsement of the Zoom platform. Other plaforms provide similar benefits. I have been using Zoom for years, so I’m writing about my experience with it during the pandemic.
Alone in my recreation room about 7:40 a.m. last Wednesday, I gave a speech. It was a pretty darn good speech, judging by the reaction. I really felt like I connected with my audience.
I had lots of company. I was accompanied—via Zoom—by 10 members of my Toastmasters club, who were arranged on my laptop screen like the B-list celebrities on Hollywood Squares.
In accessing Zoom, members of our Toastmasters club held our first-ever online meeting. At the end of the meeting, I had that happy-sad lump in my chest that shows up in sweet moments.
Seeing the smiling faces—in gallery view, as Zoomers will know—filled me with joy that despite the fear and uncertainty that has infiltrated our lives, we can still look into each other’s eyes, and take in all the lovely and sometimes irritating things that we experience with each other.
It gave me a sense of hope that we can still be with each other even though we must stay physically apart indefinitely to defeat the damn virus that is stalking us like a monster.  Zoom, Google HangoutsMicrosoft Teams and other platforms are keeping people connected, but they are also keeping business rolling. They will become more integral as time goes on.
But for now, alone and perhaps with more time on our hands, and fewer distractions than normal, many of us are feeling afraid, lonely and knocked off-stride. These platforms are being used wisely for work parties to keep people feeling connected and productive, and bringing people together to talk about their worries and concerns and to explore solutions.
Perhaps that’s one of the silver linings of the zombie apocalypse emergency lockdown. It’s a reminder that connection with each other is as important to our survival as food and shelter.
No doubt it’s the context in which we’re all operating, but I’ve been delightfully surprised by the sense of presence I’ve felt with folks I’ve been zooming with. 
And so have my friends. Kathy Hanneson directs a women’s choir. She says connecting online allows the members to “feel part of the greater whole … and keep each others’ spirits up with a screen full of smiling, singing faces.”
Michele Whitteker, a member of our Toastmasters group and a Zoom rookie, found it uncomfortable at first, but it affirmed to her that “our resilience, creativity and willingness to try new things will always get us through uncertain times.”
That sense of connection was also palpable during my ManKind Project men’s group on Thursday, which was also our first-ever online meeting. As I spoke to a man struggling in a part of his life, his face filled the screen. I felt right there with him, soul to soul.
After a day of angst and worry, when we said our good-byes that night, I felt so much lighter, unburdened of the drama that had been pinging around my noggin. 
Looking into my phone yesterday, I had a lump in my throat as I watched about a dozen members of our church congregation watching and listening on Zoom to Father Vernon Boyd celebrate mass to an empty Holy Rosary Catholic church in Guelph.
Streaming Sunday’s mass was an experiment, and its success persuaded Father Boyd to plan on streaming mass every Sunday for as long necessary. I think this is massive. Regardless of your view of organized religion, I believe that watching their parish priest—their spiritual leader—provides the church members with a sense of calm, solace and community, which is essential for everyone, especially older members of the parish who are feeling even more isolated than usual.
It also struck me that everyone, just like all my Zoom calls last week, was experiencing this live, in the moment. We weren’t reviewing a past moment, or anticipating a future one.
We were, digitally speaking, with each other—chit chatting, nodding, reacting to one another—as the moments unfolded. We had the capacity to be present to each other, which is the greatest gift we can share; feeling connected, open, listening, speaking our truth, telling our old jokes, sharing our time-worn philosophies. Being with each other.
Technology gets a bad rap for many reasons, but right now, I think it provides wonderful opportunities for connecting us when we most need it.
As a bonus, here’s a really fun Zoom experience from the 1970s before the internet was even a thing.

If you would like to connect for a complimentary 30-minute coaching session, send me an email to tim@oconnorgolf.ca.

About Tim O'Connor

Tim O'Connor is a golf coach, an award-winning writer, and speaker. Tim takes a holistic approach, coaching golfers in the physical and mental aspects of golf. He co-hosts the Swing Thoughts podcast with Howard Glassman, and is the author of The Feeling of Greatness: The Moe Norman Story. He plays bass in CID—a Guelph punk band!