Sunday, April 5, 2020

can't zoom a zoom.

You can't zoom a zoom.

This was a basic rule of a sophomoric drinking game I played as a college student.  It was innocent and fun, or seemed to be then.  We, in college, would gather on a Thursday night with a sorority group that had been invited to join us at a municipal golf course's bar.  How this place became "our" bar is something I would have to ask one of the more senior members of the local fraternity that I pledged. Problem is that their memories are often contradictory.  Regardless of why we wound up choosing this rotting old bar by the 18th hole of the golf course as our tavern, we would gather there.  We would meet up at "the Muni",  imbibe, tell tall tales and hope to, in the parlance of the 21st century, hook up.

One drinking game we played was called, Zoom, Schwartz, Profigliano.  As a septuagenarian it is a bit embarrassing to describe the game and that I routinely played it, but as a sophomore it was fun.  We would sit in a circle with a pitcher of beer in the middle. Each of us would have a glass and would attempt to sit next to someone whose fancy we hoped to secure.

Future lawyers, doctors, successful entrepreneurs, and college professors played the game this way: Someone pointed at another and said Zoom.  The person so zoomed, could not return the zoom, could only Schwartz or Profigliano the Zoom.  Basic rule, you can't zoom a zoom. If you wanted to Zoom you had to Zoom another player.  There were other more esoteric rules.  Point is, it was easy to goof up.   A violation resulted in a chorus of a made up word--Splivvage, I believe--that had to be uttered with elbows facing the offender.  Then the miscreant had to knock back the beer. 

Sophomoric, but we were sophomores. You had to make sure a player who was not particularly good at the game did not drink too much, but otherwise it was fun. 

Not so much fun zooming now.  I am becoming a decent zoomer though it took a while.  We had a zoom department meeting on Thursday, then I had one on Friday, two yesterday, will have one later this morning, and then on Monday am meeting my classes synchronously using Zoom.  I am glad that I am learning the technology, and the novelty has been amusing at times.  But I think that after a spell, and who knows how long the spell will be, the luster born from the novelty, will fade and reveal the inherent problems with the new technology.  I held a class last week, and it is a real challenge to engage all students and react to student reactions. Our department meeting was better than nothing, and given our new reality, good to hear how colleagues are coping.  But it had limitations. The Zaremba clan will have zoom seder on Thursday night hosted by my cousin in Philadelphia.  I think by the fourth cup of wine we may be needing a fifth or sixth just for dealing with the predictable snafus that come with new technology.

I'll not digress to discuss the limitations that come with using video communication technology from the perspective of someone who has some knowledge on the subject.  Academics tend to pontificate about what they know as if their knowledge base gives them a platform higher than those not in the know. Maybe I know more than the average bear about the communication issues, but what I have to say is not particularly profound.

You can't zoom a zoom.  Our new world is requiring social distancing which is an anathema to the natural order of things.  We need to touch, we need to hold, we need to be able to say to family members, friends, and sweethearts close up and personal how much we need them and are there for them.

Our municipality has, wisely, put locks on the tennis courts, and tied up the nets on the baskets.  Congregating is dangerous. My grocery store has put out tape so that we can't get within six feet of another.  Today, by virtue of my age, I was able to get into the store at 6 am, with others eligible for social security.  It was like the old age home with carts, except that everyone in there looked like an aging physician or bandit.  Two workers were guarding the toilet paper so that the bandits could only take one package at a time.

We need to zoom a zoom. We absolutely can't now. We must not.  But we need to and I hope our leaders compel our citizens to be responsible so that we can embrace each other sooner than later.

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