From the Editor’s Desk: Jane, stop this crazy thing! | Opinion

Happy New Year 2022! I hope your new year is off to a good start.

Over the last two years of the COVID-19 pandemic, we have started to use remote learning and meeting tools more easily. Apps like Zoom, Go To Meeting, Google Hangouts and Face Time have been widely used. Internet service providers have seen an increase in requests for higher speeds as people living and working from home need to interact with others online.

Broadband Internet service, considered a luxury for a few just a decade ago, is fast becoming a basic human right for some. I’m exaggerating, but you know what I’m talking about. Between video meetings for work and school, video and audio streaming services, internet speed and reliability are of great concern.

Every week, I organize at least one meeting via Zoom with the staff members of the five newspapers in our small group. Ongoing education and training of our information and publicity staff is almost always done via webinar now. The technology makes very efficient use of time, dramatically reducing or eliminating travel time.

As a child born in the 1960s, adopting this technology is the progression from science fiction to reality. It’s a weird feeling of déjà vu when you’re talking to someone miles away, seeing their face and their surroundings. Captain Kirk of “Star Trek” and George Jetson of “The Jetsons” did it daily, with great entertainment value. I never thought it would be something I would be able to do in my lifetime, but here we are.

These interactions have become more common over the past couple of years and I think it’s probably time to develop some basic etiquette. While researching for this column, I found that there was a lot of writing on this topic. From lighting and backgrounds to muting your microphone and pausing to let someone else speak, many people have opinions and thoughts.

It’s considered rude by many if you don’t mute your microphone when you’re not speaking. Depending on how private your space is, co-workers and ringing phones or barking dogs can be major distractions. If you mute yourself when you’re not speaking, it’s very easy to start speaking without unmuting, causing other meeting participants to tell you – usually all at once – that you’re muted.

Looking at the webcam, not your screen, when talking is considered the best “eye contact” you can make in a meeting or call. While that’s correct, it’s easier said than done. The temptation to stare at the screen is great and hard to avoid.

And we’ve all seen the videos of kids joining the meeting and attendees dressed for success at the top and wearing shorts or pajamas at the bottom.

Hey, it’s a brave new world. We will understand everything. According to the cartoon, George Jetson will be born this year. That’s the good news. The bad news? The 1973 dystopian classic “Soylent Green” where pollution and overpopulation led to dead people being recycled into crackers for others to eat, was set in 2022.

Somehow, toilet paper shortages seem a bit trivial, right?

As always, I await your comments. You can reach me by email at [email protected], by phone at 715-268-8101, or in writing at PO Box 424, Amery, WI, 54001.

Thanks for reading. I will stay in touch. Do not hesitate to do the same.