I’m not one to pat myself on the back for my successes and accomplishments — partially because my quad arms make it tricky — since I’d like to think I am aware enough to know that most victories are the product of more than one person’s contributions. But one success I am willing to claim fully as my own was the decision to change NEW MOBILITY’s weekly editorial meetings from phone to video.
That may sound trivial, but you have to understand that the team that brings you NEW MOBILITY — a team I am proud to be a member of — is composed of some of the legends of the Introvert All-Stars. It took multiple calls and seemingly hours of persuasion to convince my coworkers that we wouldn’t all be appalled at each other’s appearances and that there was value in actually seeing our faces when we talked.
I sold them on shorter meetings where no one could get away with multitasking or losing focus, two things I happily owned up to over years of long phone meetings. I believed what I was selling, and I was also confident that seeing our team’s faces would build camaraderie and reduce confusion. Two years later, I think we’d all agree the move to video has paid great dividends.
If there is one silver lining to come out of the ongoing pandemic, it may be that people around the world are reaping these same dividends and beginning to appreciate the power of video. Anyone who hadn’t already discovered the benefits and potential of video conferencing, and, more broadly, video chatting, has likely received a crash course in the field thanks to COVID-19. Even the most troglodytic Luddites are embracing Zoom and Google Hangouts as a way to stay in touch, because, well, honestly, there aren’t a lot of options.
As they do, they’ll likely wrestle with the somewhat confusing possibility that an event that forces us to isolate ourselves may actually end up bringing us closer together. I’m not talking about the cheesy “we are the world” unison that many would like to ascribe to these types of crises, but to actually staying in regular and more meaningful contact with friends and family. With time on hand and the knowledge that most everyone is stuck at home, people are reaching out to distant family and long unseen friends they likely wouldn’t have connected with during their normal day-to-days.
It’s not surprising to me to see that our community of people with disabilities is leading the way when it comes to creative use of video communication. We’ve learned to harness the power of video to make our voices heard when transportation fails, access is nonexistent, or our bodies simply won’t comply. From nonprofit board meetings, to support groups, to advocacy groups, to simple social gatherings, some of the most productive and exciting video chats I’ve seen in the last few weeks have come from our community.
While I miss the meals out with friends and going to appointments and events, I’ve grown surprisingly fond of seeing upcoming social Zoom chats scheduled on my calendar. I’ve “attended” five 40th birthday parties for friends, watched a movie with a friend’s kid and played games with a split screen so we could enjoy each other’s reactions. And with a few minor exceptions, I can honestly say I really enjoyed each one.