COLUMN: Not always a pretty picture revealed through the Zoom lens

Staying connected with friends during the pandemic is both risky and rewarding

Most of my closest friends I’ve known for nearly two decades – a few of them longer.

That is to say, there’s little any of them can do to surprise me anymore. I’ve seen them at their best, their worst, and all the spots in between.

But then came the day my friend Jeremy video-called me while he was in the shower. After all these years, that was something new.

Apparently, “Hey, watch me lather up” is the new “Hello.”

And you thought your office Zoom calls were bad.

Granted, this was not the first time I have seen a little too much of this particular friend – we grew up playing sports together, we’ve shared hotel rooms, and in the early 2000s I was unfortunately present when he streaked an outdoor fireworks show – but I still found the call a little unnecessary, even if it did make me laugh.

And while that call was uh, a little too revealing, it was just the latest in a series of entertaining video chats I’ve had with my friends since the start of the COVID-19 pandemic.

A few times last summer, four or five of us got together virtually via Zoom for some beers, and over the Christmas break, the same friend who called me from the shower organized a Zoom watch party for a Team Canada game at the World Junior Hockey Championships; everyone remained fully clothed for that one.

It was, we all agreed, a pretty good time. Was it the same as being in the same room together, or sitting in the same booth at our favourite pub? Well, no. But we made the best of a weird situation, and it was a welcome respite from what can otherwise be a pretty lonely existence when you don’t really leave the house for days at a time.

It was during one of our summertime Zoom calls that someone in our group posed a question that, somehow, none of us had thought to ask before:

“Why didn’t we start doing this years ago?”

Our semi-regular calls were spurred by the pandemic, of course, but my friend raised a good point. Video calls have been around for awhile, and of the five of us on the call, only two live in the same city.

In the last 10 years or so, my closest friends have all scattered from the Lower Mainland – to various Okanagan locales, to Squamish, and some even further afield, to northern B.C. and Fort McMurray.

We all keep in touch as best we can. Rare is the day that I don’t get a text message from one of them, and my friend Kyle and I have been swapping Simpson’s memes back and forth via social media for years.

But actually seeing them, via video, still felt different – like we had stumbled across some impressive new technology that, in reality, wasn’t really new at all.

Better late than never, I guess.

Now, we can see somebody’s horrible new mustache, or new tattoo, or if we’re lucky, maybe there will be a brief guest appearance from someone’s significant other. One friend had a baby just before Christmas, and though we’d all already seen pictures of the little guy, I don’t have to tell you how different it is to see video of a sleeping baby, as opposed to a still image.

It’s pretty much the same, actually. Never mind.

Nevertheless, we vowed to continue these calls well into the future – long after the pandemic is but a distant memory.

We’ll have some drinks, tell some dumb jokes, maybe watch a hockey game. Just like old times.

Except pants will be optional, apparently.

Nick Greenizan is a reporter at the Peace Arch News.


Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

The Alzheimer Society of BC is hosting a number of webinars next month to help people prepare for financial and healthcare needs. (Contributed photo)
Alzheimer Society invites White Rock residents to series of educational webinars

Planning Ahead: Do it Now! webinar to be held March 10

South Surrey’s Elizabeth and Marcel Bergmann – the Bergmann Piano Duo – will present another colorful Surrey Civic Theatres Digital Stage concert., premiering online March 11. Contributed photo
South Surrey pianists Bergmann Duo blend musical colours

Rhapsody In Blue meets The Red Violin in online concert

St. John Ambulance is looking for financial support in its bid to install 1,000 publicly accessible AED devices throughout British Columbia. The stands which hold the defibrillator also contain naloxone and first aid kits. Cost to equip and install each stand is around $8,000. (stock photo)
St. John Ambulance aims to install 1,000 publicly accessible AEDs across B.C.

First of two defibrillators planned for Crescent Beach already in place

(Black Press - file photo)
WEATHER: Enjoy the sun today, prepare for a week of rain

Clouds and rain to arrive by evening, Environment Canada forecasts

Alex Browne photo The felling of two mature Douglas Fir ‘eagle trees’ on Oxford Street, just south of Prospect Avenue, in June of 2019, prompted a review of tree management bylaws and policies now before White Rock council. The trees were felled on instructions from City of White Rock staff, who said the work was necessary because they had become hazardous. (File photo)
City of White Rock mulls ‘tree protection’ bylaw

More stringent measures needed to protect canopy – councillor

Abbotsford’s Kris Collins turned to TikTok out of boredom when the provincial COVID-19 lockdown began in March 2020. She now has over 23 million followers on the video app. Photo: Submitted
Internet famous: Abbotsford’s Kris Collins is a TikTok comedy queen

Collins has found surprise stardom alone with a phone

A Vancouver restaurant owner was found guilty of violating B.C.’s Human Rights Code by discriminating against customers on the basis of their race. (Pixabay)
Vancouver restaurant owner ordered to pay $4,000 to customers after racist remark

Referring to patrons as ‘you Arabs’ constitutes discrimination under B.C.’s Human Rights Code, ruling deems

Approximate location of the vehicle incident. (Google Maps)
Vehicle incident blocking Coquihalla traffic in both directions

Both directions of traffic stopped due to vehicle incident

Judith Uwamahoro is Black, approximately 4’7″ tall, 80 pounds and has short black hair and brown eyes. (Surrey RCMP handout)
UPDATED: Lower Mainland 9-year-old located after police make public plea

Judith Uwamahoro went missing Friday at around 4 p.m. in Surrey

Cannabis bought in British Columbia (Ashley Wadhwani/Black Press Media)
Is it time to start thinking about greener ways to package cannabis?

Packaging suppliers are still figuring eco-friendly and affordable packaging options that fit the mandates of Cannabis Regulations

Five-year-old Nancy Murphy wears a full mask and face shield as she waits in line for her kindergarten class to enter school during the COVID-19 pandemic on Tuesday, September 15, 2020. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Variant of concern linked to COVID-19 outbreak at three Surrey schools

Cases appear to be linked to community transmissions, but schools will remain open

BC Ferries experienced heavy traffic on Feb. 27 following cancellations the day before due to strong winds and adverse weather. (Black Press Media file photo)
BC Ferries sailings fill up quickly after Friday cancellations due to high winds

Waits expected on Swartz Bay-Tsawwassen route, Horseshoe Bay-Departure Bay route

Nanaimo children’s author and illustrator Lindsay Ford’s latest book is ‘Science Girl.’ (Photo courtesy Lindsay Ford)
B.C. children’s writer encourages girls to pursue the sciences in new book

Lindsay Ford is holding a virtual launch for latest book, ‘Science Girl’

Pig races at the 145th annual Chilliwack Fair on Aug. 12, 2017. Monday, March 1, 2021 is Pig Day. (Jenna Hauck/ Chilliwack Progress file)
Unofficial holidays: Here’s what people are celebrating for the week of Feb. 28 to March 6

Pig Day, Canadian Bacon Day and Grammar Day are all coming up this week

Most Read