A Video Call? No Thanks.
Take just one look at any photograph of me and you'll quickly agree that I've got a face for radio. Certainly not for videos. So why am I being invited to more and more video calls? Is this a fad or just a horrible trend? Whatever it is, people need to cut it out. I don’t want to be on your video call.
Video has proliferated our world. Depending on which report you read (like this one), it's estimated that 70 to 80 percent of internet traffic will be consumed by video content by the end of the decade (if not already). Sure, much of this is Netflix, Amazon, Hulu and YouTube. But people are using videos to document their lives, their dogs' lives, their humor and their reporting skills on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and Twitter. Much of this is great (and oftentimes hilarious) stuff, but there is a dark side. No, I'm not talking about the terrible call that softball umpire made recently. I'm talking about the video conferencing services that are slowly proliferating the professional world.
You know these services because there are plenty of them. The two most embraced by corporate America seem to be Google Hangouts and Microsoft Skype. With Hangouts and Skype you can not only have a web-based call with just one or many people, but you can stream your faces live and real time for everyone to see as well. Corporate America loves these tools. I hate them. Why?
I'm a business owner. I, like many of my SMB clients, suffer from some form of undiagnosed attention-deficit-disorder. I don't sit still. I can't focus on any one thing for more than five minutes. I need to be moving, walking, looking around, snooping, making coffee, folding laundry, putting away dishes and of course judging others. I never sit at my desk staring into a webcam when I'm on the phone. I'm not some corporate worker bee that's chained to a chair in a cubicle on the 37th floor of some Manhattan office building, counting the minutes until lunch and looking forward to the next "video call" to break up the day.
Some companies I know actually require that their employees make video calls because it inhibits them from doing other activities, like surfing the web or doing work on the side. I'm assuming these are the same companies that monitor their employees' breeding and eating habits too. Are people in a zoo nowadays? They can't be trusted to participate in a work-related call without some new corporate requirement to help them minimize distractions? Are these people employees or monkeys?
I don't want to participate in your video call. I don't want you to look at me. I don’t want to look at you. It’s awkward and weird. Video calls add yet another layer of stress to the work day. I don't look nearly as put together as you do. I'm not dressed very well. Many times I'm working from home so I'm not much dressed at all and believe me no one wants to see that. Other times I'm travelling and would be mortified to find out that my dirty underwear on the bed in my hotel room was on display behind me during the entire call.
Whenever I get an invitation that contains just a single link to a Google Hangout or Microsoft Skype call I groan out loud. Hello? Can't we just have a call-call? Does it have to be video-call? Will using video make the call any more productive than if we're just on the call? Did the inviter at anytime consider that some of the people don’t work for his company and may not want to be seen on video or just may not be available on video?
You want to have a video call? Fine. Facetime with your kids. Skype with your sister in New Mexico. Have an internal Google Hangout. But if you're going to invite someone from the outside on a call then pretty please, with sugar-and-spice, provide a traditional dial-in number. Some of us don't want to be part of your video madness.