Another reason for video chat fatigue [is] the opposite of the eye contact problem: You have to look at each other’s faces the entire time! There are rarely natural breaks in conversation on Zoom, as there might be during a typical group dinner or coffee date, and it’s much harder to have a comfortable silence (or manage an uncomfortable one) when all parties are staring at one another nonstop. There’s no peeking out a window, no studying a menu, no people-watching, no helping out in the kitchen or asking about a host’s record collection. There’s only talking, and in a video chat with more than two participants, striking a normal conversational rhythm is nearly impossible. Add in differing internet lag times and the inability to hear multiple people speaking at once, and every group discussion becomes group “monologuing,” as Ashley Fetters termed it in the Atlantic. The patron saint of lively repartee rolls over in her grave with every “Wait, what was that?,” “Sorry, you go ahead,” and “Hang on, you just froze.”
Why Zoom calls are so tiring: The science of why you’re burned out by video chat in quarantine.