The real reason you can’t stop staring at yourself on Zoom calls

The next time you get on a Zoom call, we dare you to not look at yourself. At all. For the duration of the call.

Ok, we may not have kept you from looking, but we’ve probably made you aware of the fact that you look at yourself much more than you might have thought. Cyberpsychologist Andrew Franklin told Insider that reflex has to do with the belief that we’re playing up to an imaginary audience, that everyone around you is actually paying attention to everything you do.

The imaginary audience phenomenon is common when you’re just out of childhood and in your tween years. As Emory University assistant professor of psychiatry and behavioral sciences Rachel Herschenberg wrote in an article for Psychology Today, we function under the impression that everyone is looking at us, studying what we do, and talking about us behind our backs. And while this might be partly true (particularly during our teen years), some of us carry this into adulthood — and we continue to believe in the myth of the imaginary audience. “That imaginary audience phenomenon doesn’t necessarily go away [in adulthood]. People become extremely self conscious and think that eyes are on them. When in reality, they’re not being scrutinized or criticized to the extent that they think they are,” Franklin says (via Insider).

Why do Zoom calls

Franklin also says focusing on yourself is one way to cope with all that’s happening on a Zoom call. When we talk to someone face to face, we’re usually on the lookout for different things, we look at gestures, facial expressions, and body language. We also listen out for tones of voice, which we then use to decipher what it is the other person, be it colleague, friend or family is trying to say. But when we switch to video, those cues either vanish or become more difficult to spot. 

“Online, you’re relegated to a screen that may be the size of a page. You’re missing a lot of information that perhaps you would get if you were face to face. So people can find themselves kind of straining when they’re in a Zoom meeting,” Franklin says. And don’t forget — you’re not just looking at one person. Chances are you’re looking at a host of different people, and you’re replicating the process of trying to decipher what they are trying to say over and over again.

So don’t think other people are looking at you too, because they’re likely to be just as overwhelmed you are, and will also be focusing on themselves as a result. If Zoom fatigue hits because video calls can be too much, make phone calls instead. Your colleagues or friends probably feel the same way and they’ll likely feel just as relieved.

Source: Read Full Article