Jonathan Fryer

Writer, Lecturer, Broadcaster and Liberal Democrat Politician

Archive for May 4th, 2020

The Zoom Generation

Posted by jonathanfryer on Monday, 4th May, 2020

ZoomTo be honest, I had never heard of Zoom until the London lockdown began six weeks ago. But now I wonder how I would have got by without it. The university course I teach (at SOAS) moved entirely online for the summer term and Zoom is brilliant for class discussions. For lectures, I use Panopto. Similarly, I sit on a number of political committees, including the Liberal Democrats’ Federal International Relations Committee, which I chair, and Zoom is great at not only showing everyone who is there but in prominently focussing on the person actually speaking. As a “host” with Zoom Pro I can arrange as many meetings as I want, for an unlimited period of time, and control who enters the meeting. Chats and questions can take place in a sidebar. So what’s not to like?

facebookOf course, this is only the latest in a series of technological advances that have become “however did I manage without?” items. Social media is another one, especially twitter, not only as a platform on which to air one’s opinions but also as a prime source of news and commentary. I am a great supporter of the usefulness of Facebook, too, though doubtless Instagram-using younger people would say that just shows my age. Similarly, how did we live without SmartPhones, or before that basic mobile phones? It’s a salutary lesson to go back in time in one’s mind to think about the impact new inventions had on people’s lives, not just in our current postmodern age but during the process of modernisation itself: railways, telephone, electricity. You get my drift. However, people did have fulfilling lives before all this technology and I get a sense of that when I have my daily statutory walk in the woods just behind the house, listening to the birdsong and watching the flowers change as spring edges towards summer. Perhaps this COVID-19 experience will make us all realise more profoundly the beauty of simple things. But in the meantime, hooray for Zoom! May the 4th. be with you!

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