This past Wednesday was my first time in a Zoom room. I didn’t zoom in. I crept in, one baby step at a time.
Meanwhile, school children all around the world blithely zoom in and out of such rooms. Good for them. I’m old. I don’t zoom anywhere. (Beam me up, Scotty. I can’t move!)
I got in. Somehow. I fiddled with the mouse (here a click, there a click, everywhere a click-click). I looked up and—lo, and behold—I saw a gallery of 24 beaming faces, like Hollywood Squares squared.
The Zoom website says it’s “super natural.” (I don’t know about that. But it’s not far from “miraculous.”)
This was a test run for my Shepherd University Lifelong Learning class, “Jesus Before Christianity.” The class begins in earnest next week. Four weeks ago, the virus doomed it. Zoom saved it. We are together again, face-to-face, without touching.
Zoom, I found out, is a contagion. Everybody’s getting it.
It connects teachers with students, bosses with employees, committee chairs with members, parishioners with pastors, physicians with patients, grandparents with grandchildren, lovers with each other.
Zoom is saving the world from a worse fate. It keeps us together while apart. All because engineers are lovers, too.
Zoom originated in China. Well, I should say, in a certain Chinese boy’s head.
Thirty years or so ago, Yuán Zhēng, an engineering student at Shandong University of Science and Technology was in love. To see his girlfriend, he had to take a train. It took hours and hours. Ten to be exact.
There’s got to be a quicker way to see her. If only I had a way to zoom out there.
He started dreaming in algorithms.
Yuán married his girlfriend, moved to Silicon Valley, and went to work on his dream. After all, the world is full of lovers longing to be together when apart.
Yuán is now a billionaire. When asked what he requires of those who work for him, he has a one-word answer: Care. I want all my employees to care for others. It’s not our slogan. It’s our practice.
I once thought of China as paper, fireworks, pagodas, dragons, Confucius, the Tao, the Great Wall. I still do. But I’ve added two other words: Zoom. And love.
Love makes the world go round. Zoom keeps it from falling apart.
See Paula’s photograph on the home page.