Printed: 2020-10-21

Institute for Ethics and Emerging Technologies





IEET Link: https://ieet.org/index.php/IEET/more/rinesi20200927

Short story: The Zoom Journals

Marcelo Rinesi


Adversarial Metanoia


https://adversarialmetanoia.substack.com/p/the-zoom-journals

September 27, 2020

Monday. Your connection has some issues: people seem to answer your comments slightly before you say them. You are too tired to think through how that works. Brief chit chat about a new vaccine trial.

Tuesday. Some people in the call you don’t recognize. Nobody introduces them. You don’t ask. No vaccine news.

Wednesday. No call. Maybe? Definitely no vaccine.

Tuesday. No new people in the call, even if some of them you only recognize as a vague feeling of déjà vu. You think some are missing from the last time, but nobody says anything, and you don’t ask. Another vaccine trial is suspended over unspecified side effects.

Wednesday. The call is longer than usual. The few open windows you can see behind people show a random mixture of skies: day, night, and an ambiguous dusk-dawn. Time zones are hard to figure out. All your clocks are set in 12hs am/pm format anyway.

Thursday. Very few people on the call. Something about wildfires or protests. You don’t recognize anyone, and log out as early as politely possible to avoid talking about vaccines.

Friday. You spend the whole call doomscrolling vaccine news. The word has lost and gained all meaning by now, like an overused meme. You’re so distracted that you could swear everybody’s been talking about projects you have never heard of.

Monday. You don’t remember your weekend. “It was fine,” you answer when asked about it. Everybody’s was.

Wednesday. Most of the call happened between two blinks. You’re so tired you check yourself for fever, but the thermometer shows the exact same number every time, hour after hour. You suppose that means you’re fine.

Monday. Things are so repetitive that you start answering people’s comments before they make them.

Tuesday. You decide to start a journal, claw back a sense of the passage of time. You find you have already been keeping one. It’s useful, as you don’t remember half of what you wrote in it, even if the entries are out of order and some of them have the wrong date, months in the future or the past.

Wednesday. You are alone in the call, your screen covered with video feeds of empty chairs. None is muted, but you hear nothing. You wait from somebody to walk in, doomscrolling news about the suspended vaccine trial.


Marcelo Rinesi is the IEET's Chief Technology Officer, and former Assistant Director. He is also a freelance Data Intelligence Analyst.

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