This is how to get out of all those Zoom calls without hurting anyone’s feelings
I beg of you, no more pub quizzes
Zoom, FaceTime, Houseparty calls are all anyone is doing every evening and they’re exhausting. I’ve done more pub quizzes in the last month than I’ve done in my entire life and quite frankly I never want to hear the words “round three” again.
Having to put makeup on, coming up with funny questions and making interesting small talk is really taking its toll. And don’t get me started on doing big group calls with people I only see twice a year. If these people asked me to go for a drink normally, I would be making up a lot of excuses to avoid them and easily getting away with it.
But now it’s impossible, you can’t say no to a call or a virtual quiz, you seem rude and what else have you got to do? Some nights I just want to put on sweatpants, drink a big glass of wine, watch Gilmore Girls repeats and avoid talking to anyone. Like I would do on a usual Tuesday night when everything is just a bit too much and I need a chilled out escape.
It seems virtually impossible to say no and according to psychologist Dr. Kalanit the reason we don’t want to turn these calls down is just the same as not wanting to miss a Friday night out. It’s the FOMO.
Dr Kalanit said: “We don’t want to feel left out or to come across in a negative way if we decline to take part.”
She also said we want to take part in these calls because of our need to belong to a group.
Dr Kalanit said: “Young adults find it challenging to say ‘no’ to social calls is because of their significant need to belong to their peer group. A sense of belonging and for social status is important for the their sense of identity and self-confidence.”
Ok, so if we have major FOMO and these calls are meant to be making us feel part of a group, why is it so draining? According to Dr. Kalanit online calls don’t provide our bodies with all the emotional and physical things we need.
She said: “Any gathering, whether online or face to face, requires some level of energy. But when we interact with people in person, our brain and body are also charged emotionally and physically (hugs, holding hands, energy between the left and right brain and so on). Online gatherings are a great way to keep in touch, but can’t provide the body with all the necessary emotional and physical needs.”
The online call itself is also pretty draining and in an emotionally vulnerable time overexposure to screens will do nothing for your nervous system.
Dr Kalanit said: “At this uncertain time, we are more vulnerable emotionally, and overexposure to screens doesn’t help us to regulate our nervous system – it does the opposite. The nervous system requires movement. This is how your brain and nerve system regulate themselves to function optimally. The more you time spent looking at a screen, the less you move and therefore the more emotionally exhausted you will feel.”
The novelty of these calls has worn off and whilst the funny excuses of “I’ve got food poisoning”, “I’m saving the bandwidth for key workers” are jokes they’re not going to actually help you feel good about saying “no” to a call.
So I asked Dr. Kalanit how we can get out of these calls without upsetting anyone. She recommends doing the following to avoid hurting peoples feelings when it comes to zoom calls:
Decide on a specific time
Set aside a time when you want to speak to people and let your family and friends know when you’ll be available to talk.
Assess how you feel after a call
If you’re feeling exhausted, pay attention to how you feel about certain people. If you come away from a chat feeling energised and positive, prioritise those people.
Make it work for both of you
Even though we’re at home people have plenty of other commitments, so if you can’t do a certain time, make it work for both of your schedules.
Let your friends know how you’re doing and what you might need support with. The more honest you are, the more they can help.
Set aside some time for a digital detox
Mark out some time for a digital-detox, away from all screens. This is very important for your overall well-being. Do something calming where you don’t need to interact in any way and you can find some peace.
And if you just need some excuses to get out of that quiz, here are some of our favourites:
– I’m going on a very long walk and won’t be back in time.
– I’m stuck in queue for the supermarket.
– I’m doing an in person quiz with my family.
– I’ve got food poisoning.
– I’ve got a headache from too much screen time.
– I’m making dinner.
– I’m having a FaceTime date.
– I’ve got to tidy the house.