Personal space

While the software has been an essential tool for productivity, learning, and social interaction, something about being on videoconference all day seems particularly exhausting, and the term “Zoom Fatigue” caught on quickly. In this article, I focus on nonverbal overload as a potential cause for fatigue, and provide four arguments outlining how various aspects of the current Zoom interface likely lead to psychological consequences.

~ Jeremy N. Bailenson from,

This is more science-y than usual for this ‘ol blog. That’s a link to a journal article, (albeit not a peer-reviewed, “real” Journal-with-a-capital-J,) which presents an actual theory about “Zoom fatigue.” We all know it’s real, but why?

There are four parts to the theory. But the one that jumped out as glaringly obvious once I’d read it is about personal space. The distance around oneself within which another person’s presence begins to feel intimate varies among cultures. Americans like a goodly full arm’s length, and—my personal experience and opinion here—Europeans are cool with noticeably less. Regardless of the specifics, if people are in your personal space, that gets tiresome. Not “omg this is lame” tiresome, but physically tiring. (That’s apparently settled psychology and science.) Guess what? It seems the apparent size of the people on your screen triggers our brain’s perception of “how close is this person?”


Many a milestone I missed

This raises the obvious question of whether there are any basic mental operations I still don’t have, how I would recognize them if there were, and how I would learn them once I recognized them.

~ Scott Alexander from,

I truly don’t understand how he does this. This is so bootstrap-meta, I’m just left staring at it like a chicken stares right before pecking idiotically at a pebble.


When the ‘me’ is obliterated

(Part 55 of 74 in series, My Journey)

When the ‘me’ is obliterated by fear or the demands of immediate survival, action is no longer constrained by social forces, and the individual is left with a sense of self-determination. […] Behavior in edgework appears to the individual as an innate response arising from sources deep within the individual, untouched by socializing influences”

~ Stephen Lyng, from Edgework, 2004

A couple years ago I tried to write something explaining what exactly it is about practicing parkour that I like so much. It turns out others are way WAY ahead of me. Julie Angel (you have read Cinè Parkour, right?) talks a bit about “edgework”; The idea of negotiating the “edges” between things like consciousness/unconsciousness, sanity/insanity, and life/death. Others (H.S. Thompson and Lyng) have talked about “edgework” in depth.

And I agree. My experience is that being in the parkour practice — even just the visceral edges where I’m pushing my physical limits while exposing myself to only manageable levels of risk — just totally strips away all the context of my work-a-day life. Everything — all the way down to my thoughts — everything falls away.

My martial arts teacher has a great phrase related to edgework: No this. No that. No delay.