A few years ago, I was part of a Whatsapp group meeting where a vote was taken and a decision was made online about an important organisational issue (hooray for hand and thumb emojis! ✋👍👎🙋). There was opposition to the meeting's outcome by some who felt that a Whatsapp meeting was an abomination. These people lobbied for the resolutions made at that meeting to be declared null and void, even though it was accepted that convening a physical meeting had been unsuccessful.
Fast forward to four or so years later and online meetings are here to stay. In a post-Covid-19 world, the convenience and cost saving benefits of online meetings that many have now experienced, will render this method of meeting popular for a long time to come.
Some former technophobes have had their moments of repentance and have since happily embraced the convenience that comes with digital communication. I belong to yet another organisation whose members are located in Zimbabwe, South Africa, Botswana, The United Kingdom and the United States. Since its inception in 2018, those members of this organisation who are based in Africa, have met in a physical setup only once and the rest of the meetings have been cyber engagements. Over the past two years, our group video calling platforms have varied from Skype, to WeChat and Zoom and currently, Microsoft Teams is the medium of choice. The good old Whatsapp group, needless to say, is still in the picture for text and voice notes.
Does this mean that virtual meetings, especially in this Covid-19 era, have sent physical meetings to the proverbial trash can of history? Not at all! There are many limitations to online meetings and some things are best tackled in face to face encounters, but there remains no doubt that meeting online has become much more popular, while physical meetings have declined in prevalence. Not only have meetings gone digital, so have university graduations, church services, parliamentary sittings and other proceedings that we never suspected would evolve so quickly.
Technophobia, which is defined by the Merriam-Webster dictionary as, “the fear of using technological devices, such as computers,” certainly has no place in these times of the, “new normal.” The fear of engaging in virtual meetings is mainly driven by a lack of knowledge and unfounded suspicions towards anything new. If we are able to operate our cellphones, decoders and other household gadgets with relative ease, we should be able to operate most of the gadgets and applications that have arrived and have become comfortable in our world. For you to also get comfy, all you need to do is ask a friend, colleague or family member for a crash course and also remember that YouTube tutorials are always at your service. Let us normalise responsible and wise Technophilia (embracing of new technology) when it comes to meetings.