When they were younger, our three daughters loved Zoom, a half-hour television program for children that ran on PBS from 1972 to 1978. WGBH in Boston produced the program in which a cast of seven children presented games, plays, songs, puzzles, poems, jokes, even informal discussions of more serious subjects. No adults appeared. Zoom was by and for kids. The hugely popular show was revived in 1999 and ran on PBS until 2005.
Today, we grownups know Zoom as a teleconferencing software developed by Zoom Video Communications. It enables us to see and converse with one another on our computers and other electronic devices. Meetings of up to 100 participants are possible using Zoom.
Every Wednesday morning, I join a meeting on Zoom of caregivers. About a dozen friends who are responsible for caring for aging spouses or parents share reports of our experiences and swap helpful information and support. A few members are recently widowed.
As an amateur actor, I’m also part of a troupe of seniors who produce one-act plays on Zoom and record them for viewers to enjoy on You Tube.
But some of my fellow Zoomers and I have discovered that meeting this way, convenient as it is, heightens our desire to see one another in person. We yearn to meet face-to-face, perhaps to touch, to hug. Some members of our weekly caregivers group realized this last week when we found ourselves together at the funeral of the wife of one of our group.
This beautiful service took place outdoors on a mild October afternoon on the grounds of a church. Several of us found ourselves seated near one another around a picnic table. At our next weekly Zoom meeting, someone remarked on how good it felt to be together in person at that service and suggested that we find a way to get together in person again — to see one another, perhaps to hug.
Members of our theater troupe report similar feelings. As we come to the end of rehearsals and record a play, someone in the cast invariably expresses a wish for us to get together in person.
Zoom is a wonder, to be sure. It has made it possible for us to see and hear one another on our electronic devices no matter where we are. At some point, though, we feel the need to see one another face-to-face and to touch.
Perhaps to hug.