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Haven’t We Met? I think not.

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Recently I had an occasion to “meet” with a business associate through a Zoom call. Towards the end of the call, we both said the usual “it was nice to meet you.” That then sparked a conversation and brought up the question of whether or not we had indeed actually met.

Perhaps there is a cool term already in existence for this type of cyber how do you do, but if so I am not aware of it. I suppose it may be as easy as saying that we have virtually met. Meh. I have to say, what was especially missing from our virtual meeting was, of course, a lack of personal contact. The handshake, a clear look into the other person’s eyes, and every other aspect that goes with a true face-to-face meeting but is lacking virtually.

Funny thing about hand shaking, studies show that a person is more likely than not to sniff their own hand shortly after a handshake. This phenomenon is called chemosignaling and harkens back to our more primal instincts. Fascinating, yes? But I digress.

The virtual meeting was really little more than a phone conversation. Would you ever end a phone conversation with “it was nice to meet you?” Even his image on the screen was manipulated so that his background was something different than what it actually was. You’ve probably seen this trickery where a person’s background environment is changed to be a beach setting, or a field of flowers, or any number of virtual backgrounds to make your “meeting” more fun but also less authentic. I don’t think he was really on a beach. He could’ve been in an outhouse for all I know. Is it rude to ask?

To take it up a notch and make the virtual meeting process even more removed and less personal, you may opt to change yourself into a virtual you by creat ing an avatar for yourself. The avatar becomes the image people see during your online meetings. This avatar can make you appear younger. Or taller. Or blonde. Whatever suits your fancy, Nancy.

The thing is, this virtual world is not just for amusement. I know of someone who was seeking a job that would allow her to work from home. This is a real job with a real company that pays a real paycheck. Before she interviewed, she was asked to create an avatar for herself that would represent her during the interview process and beyond. Her avatar was interviewed during a virtual meeting and ultimately this person was offered the position. Although she has now worked for this company for more than a year, no one at the company has any idea what she really looks like and vice-versa.

I wonder if it’s wise to change your avatar if you were to get promoted and are responsible to supervise other avatar employees. I think I would. At a minimum, I’d add a pair of sunglasses and change to a beach background. In for a penny, in for a pound I always say. But I would surely miss the hand sniffing.

Speaking of hands, a friend of mine lost all feeling in his fingers. Lately, he’s really been out of touch.

Johnny McNally is Grimes County’s Best Dressed Businessman advocating for Grimes County and writes a bi-weekly column for the Navasota Examiner.