A presbytery meeting by Zoom with over 200 participants, many of whom may reasonably be assumed to be the opposite of “digital natives,” and thus to supply the younger and more technologically adept of us with a steady stream of un-muted gaffes and close up confused expressions ranging from the comic to the exasperating, was not how I preferred to spend my afternoon.
Sure enough, within seconds of logging on I encountered what was surely inevitable. “Someone just logged on with the name ‘Meredith’,” a voice announced with a moderatorial tone. “Can you please change your name on the screen so we can properly identify you?” This is one of the most confounding–though simplest–of Zoom exercises for the uninitiated–the proper display of one’s name, and it was among the likeliest candidates to cause disruption at this meeting.
A moment later the request was made again. Clearly “Meredith” wasn’t paying attention, or couldn’t handle the basic instruction. It occurred to me for a moment to interject a personal joke, to the effect that my wife’s name is Meredith and I would be happy to investigate whether she had found a sudden urge to join our presbytery. But no. The jokester makes Zoom worse. That conviction was tested momentarily by a second request for a name change, issued to whoever had now logged on as “Granny’s iPad.”
A third summons to “Meredith,” registered with heightened irritation, and by now I’m texting colleagues snide asides about the bleak interval these opening moments portends. It’s then that I receive a text from a compatriot who knows my wife: “I think you’re Meredith.”
Good one. Here I may harmlessly exercise my joke: “No, I’m Granny’s iPad.”
It’s only after my colleague replies that she’s not kidding that the merciless truth dawns on me. Because it was already out, and not stuffed inside a backpack like my work laptop, I’m using the family computer for this meeting. And who was the last person to log in to Zoom on this computer? Meredith.
I hastily un-mute and chuckle a cool apology to all the hopeless neophytes who, whatever their technological limitations, are not confused about their own names.